McDermott and Hughton rule themselves out of contention for Irish job
Republic of Ireland hit new low in latest Fifa ranking dropping to 59th place
Anthony Stokes: Celtic striker hopes for an international recall
As Brian McDermott and Chris Hughton ruled themselves out of the running to succeed Giovanni Trapattoni yesterday, the extent of the team’s slump in the closing stages of the Italian’s reign was underlined with the release of the latest Fifa world ranking list in which the Republic of Ireland has hit an all-time low of 59th place.
Ireland’s previous worst was 57th, in November 1998, after which they climbed the ladder quite significantly. There will be some pressure on the next manager to inspire a similarly rapid rise with the ranking having some immediate impact in terms of the team’s marketability but far more over the long term given its influence on the seedings for the World Cup.
Fifa’s list is not, however, used for the purposes of the European Championships with the seedings for the qualifiers of that tournament based on Uefa’s National Team Ranking list which is rather less volatile. If the former were used, the Republic, who are ranked 31st in Europe, would be on course to be fourth seeds where as they will actually be in the second or third pots depending on their remaining results in this campaign and which qualifying system is finally adopted.
Earlier in the day Hughton made it clear he preferred not to be considered at this stage for the Ireland job. “I’m Norwich City manager,” he said. “We spent and invested more this summer than we ever have done. I have had support from the board here. I have a group of supporters who are fanatical and want this team to do well and I have the same challenges here as the supporters and the players have. I am incredibly happy here.”
His comments came a couple of hours after McDermott had also said his priority for the moment is to succeed at club level with Leeds United.
“My situation is that one day I want to manage the Republic of Ireland,” confirmed the former Reading boss. “But at this moment in time I’m at a fantastic football club and I feel I owe this club and these supporters. I’m here and I’m committed, 100 per cent. I regard Leeds United as a very big club. At this moment I wouldn’t be leaving. In years to come when Leeds United get fed up of me, that might be the case.”
Anthony Stokes, meanwhile, expressed the hope that the appointment of a new manager, whoever it is, might provide him with the opportunity of reviving an international career that stalled under Trapattoni who was sceptical about the 25-year-old’s commitment to the cause in the wake of a couple of his withdrawals from squads.
“I have said since I have been left out the squads that I would love to be back in,” he said. “It’s not down to me. I would love to be involved in the set-up but I am just concentrating on my club football and hopefully when a new manager comes in and I am still performing well, maybe I will get my opportunity.”