Managerial appointment looks more likely after FAI confirms Latvia date
Odds shorten on Martin O’Neill as association shapes up to name Giovanni Trapattoni’s successor
Martin O’Neill: talks with Crystal Palace.
There were signs yesterday that the appointment of a successor to Giovanni Trapattoni might be imminent, with the odds against Martin O’Neill getting the job shortening dramatically as the association confirmed that Ireland will play Latvia in a friendly at the Aviva stadium on November 15th and that Noel King will name a 40 man squad with a view, it appears, to the new man trimming it back.
The Latvia game will help the association meet its quota of games for season ticket holders and the like, but the short notice and low key opposition (they are ranked 117 in the world) suggests that the game will not prove any sort of attraction unless a manager is in place.
Having King name just about everybody a new man could plausibly want available, rather than a more compact group of players he would want involved, also suggests that an appointment will be made next week with clubs having to be informed today of players’ potential involvement. The actual squad is not due to assemble in Dublin until Monday week.
There was renewed speculation yesterday that early favourite O’Neill might be the one to get the nod with Chris Coleman emerging as the favourite for the Crystal Palace job after the Irish man reportedly expressed concern about the strength of the club’s squad and Tony Pulis proved too expensive.
It is believed that there has been informal contact between the association and the former Celtic boss O’Neill over the past week or so, with the 61-year-old reportedly asked to tell the association by today whether he genuinely wants to be considered. He was, it has been suggested, anxious to buy some time in case a Premier League job came up. But in the absence of a more attractive posting like Norwich or Fulham becoming vacant up until this point, it could be that he now considers the Ireland job to be his best option.
Other candidates have met with Ray Houghton and Ruud Dokter, although it is far from clear how seriously the association itself is taking this process with the final decision still likely to come down to John Delaney. The pair are, nevertheless, due to report on their end of things to the association’s board next week.
It is understood that former Netherlands, Russia and Belgium boss Dick Advocaat is amongst the international candidates to have expressed a firm interest in the post.
Mick McCarthy’s failure to absolutely rule himself out, despite numerous opportunities to do so, suggests he is still interested but Ipswich Town chief executive Ian Milne insisted yesterday that there has still been no contact from Dublin. “We’ve had no approach – the owner, us at the club nor Mick,” he said. “We’ll worry about that if it happens.”
Whoever the new man is, mid November games against Latvia and Poland should give him a pretty good sense of where he is starting from with the team. The FAI was never likely to land a big fish for the home game and, with quite a few of the middle ranking teams one tied up in the play-offs, none of the names linked with the November 15th date really inspired much excitement. A managerial debut would certainly help shift tickets, even if they are priced at just €50 for a family of four.
Uefa, meanwhile, yesterday declined to confirm reports by the BBC that it would refuse permission to Celtic to play a European game in Dublin next summer in the event that such a request was made.
The organisation merely pointed to the rule book which states on the one hand that such games can only be moved to another jurisdiction on grounds of safety or as a result of a disciplinary measure but then, in the very next section, appears to allow more scope for flexibility in the event that a club’s home ground is unavailable which it would be in this instance.
Celtic, in any case, had stated that staging the game at Murrayfield would be the most likely eventuality.