Irish soccer legend Niall Quinn believes bookies favourite Martin O’Neill would ‘be the ideal man’ to take over from Giovanni Trapattoni as Republic of Ireland manager.
Quinn recruited O’Neill during his time as Sunderland chairman and even though the Irish tactician’s spell at the Stadium of Light ultimately ended in disappointment, he believes the former Celtic boss is the perfect choice to fill the void created by Trapattoni’s sacking on Wednesday.
“Martin could be a great Ireland manager, without a doubt,” said former striker Quinn, who played 92 times for the Republic of Ireland. “He would bring a passion and a positive frenzy to the job that could galvanise everyone to get behind the Ireland team again and it would be great to see.
“You see the impact he has when he first went to Sunderland it was extraordinary. Players who were at the depths of their career one minute were playing the best football of their lives the next and that is what O’Neill can do. Martin could do that with Ireland, of course he could.”
Another of Quinn’s ex-Sunderland managers, Roy Keane, Norwich boss Chris Hughton and ex-Republic of Ireland manager Mick McCarthy are being tipped to take over from Trapattoni.
“Does Ireland need a father figure kind of manager who will go to every length to engage with the players and try to get the best out of them?” asks Quinn. “Or do we go for a manager who seems to have to be dragged to watch matches featuring Ireland players? These are the questions that need to be answered.
“The trouble for the new man will be that he will find it hard to turn us into a great team overnight. We just don’t have the players to do that at the moment.”
Meanwhile, FAI Chief Executive John Delaney has confirmed that businessman Denis O’Brien will continue to fund part of the wages that will go to the next Republic of Ireland manager.
O’Brien has been contributing to the Trapattoni’s hefty wage packet during his five-and-half years in charge of our national team and that arrangement will continue with his successor.
“Denis O’Brien has confirmed that he will continue to stick with this project for the next two years at least,” Delaney told RTE. “We have the firepower to go to the market to try and get ourselves a manager.”
Meanwhile, Delaney sought to clarify the fine details of Trapattoni’s severance package, as he dismissed suggestions that the FAI were not committed to paying the veteran Italian through to next summer.
“Giovanni’s contract does not run until 1 June. Whatever happens is confidential, but there is no substantial cost to the Association,” added Delaney.
“There was a recognition that over his time in charge Giovanni was paid a good salary and that he delivered more than he didn’t deliver. We were unfortunate the first time out in our World Cup qualification bid, with the events in Paris. We qualified for the Euros last year – our first time getting there in 24 years.
“However, this qualifying campaign has been disappointing, in spite of the emergence of some good young players coming through.
“I think it’s a time for reflection after a traumatic four or five days. A board meeting will take place within the next week at which we’ll define the process, time-scale and job description for the next manager.
“It’s been a difficult four of five days for the Association. When we lost to Sweden it looked then that our World Cup qualification hopes had ended. The defeat last night (to Austria) confirmed that."