It fell to David Alaba to put Ireland’s World Cup qualification chances to “leaba” on Tuesday night and with it the Green Army’s Polish lager-inspired hangover from Euro 2012 finally wore off. Dan Mellett asks, ‘What now?’
The writing was on the wall and it read: Trap Out!
Many had called for a change of management following the dismal showing in Poland last summer but maybe it was the hope that somehow the Italian could repeat his trick and qualify from another tough group that spared his blushes until now.
“When the highlight of any nation’s football coverage comes not on the pitch but in the heated exchange from studio pundits afterwards, it is undoubtedly time for a change and the FAI acted swiftly to draw a line under the Trapattoni era.”
Trapattoni’s end when it came was underwhelming, just like the Irish performances that he had presided over.
So now what? Who comes in? Who is available? Who would want the job and, perhaps most importantly of all, who can the FAI actually afford?
Any potential new manager looking in will undoubtedly know that Ireland’s cupboard is pretty bare when it comes to the current talent pool and financially even Trapattoni’s own wage packet was being subsidised by Irish telecoms magnate Denis O’Brien. The good news for the FAI is that O’Brien intends to continue that support.
The bookies are always quick to price these markets up with the “runners and riders” for the post and even before Trap’s departure was officially confirmed, Martin O’Neill had already been installed as a hot favourite, but is this justified and who else is a possibility?
Martin O’Neill (current odds 4/7 Fav)
The Northern Irish man boasts possibly the best credentials of those in the frame and he can be said to have overachieved during his stints at Wycombe Wanderers, Leicester, Celtic and Aston Villa. The only blot on his managerial copy book being his most recent post at Sunderland that ultimately ended with his ignominious sacking with the Black Cats hovering one point above the relegation zone. Despite this, he is still highly regarded and his knowledge of the English and Scottish leagues will no doubt be required to find the new talent required. He is available and his passion from the sidelines would no doubt be a hit with the Irish fans and media alike but his dour playing style has been criticised and would not be the antidote the Trap-out brigade profess they want.
Mick McCarthy (current odds 15/2)
Just don’t mention Saipan right! Having guided Ireland to the World Cup in 2002 it might not surprise some that he is second favourite to fill the vacant post but when you consider that he is currently employed as manager of Ipswich Town and the FAI would seem doubtful to pay any compensation, this move seems unlikely and all that’s if you believe Mick would even want the job, or indeed that the FAI would have him.
Roy Keane (current odds 20/1)
I thought I said don’t mention Saipan! Perhaps Ireland’s greatest ever player, he almost caused another civil war when he flew home to walk the dog in 2002. Could he help heal the wounds now in Ireland’s time of need? This appointment would send ripples through world football and you can bet players would be coming out of the woodwork to play for him but it seems a bit far fetched even for football’s rich tapestry and the lure of his very lucrative ITV contract is sure to be at the forefront of Keane’s mind.
Others on the current short list include, Chris Hughton, David O’Leary, and Owen Coyle
all priced at around 25/1. From these it is only maybe O’Leary who would even take the call from the FAI given the other two having what can be regarded as good jobs in football already.
Next on the list are former Man United number 2 Rene Muelensteen, Harry Redknapp, Graeme Souness, Neil Lennon and Martin Jol with quotes of 33/1 and upwards.
A Bring Back Big Jack campaign is already underway and if you are feeling nostalgic or have just lost your senses he is available to be backed at 250/1.
Whoever comes in surely they won’t be daft enough to sign up until this qualifying campaign is finished and at least until the Germany game (bloodbath) is out of the way and the upcoming selection process may be a long one.
Sir Alex Ferguson is in Dublin promoting his new autobiography in October perhaps Denis O’Brien can divert some of his telecoms billions the Scot’s way as I hear he is at a loose end.
Go on Denis, give him a phone.
Follow Dan Mellett on Twitter @danmellett