Mick McCarthy all but rules himself out of Republic job
FAI likely to sound out former Celtic manager prior to board meeting
Mick McCarthy: The Ipswich manager says Martin O’Neill is a ‘shoo-in’ to be appointed. Photograph: Alex Broadway/Getty Images
Mick McCarthy all but ruled him himself out of the running for the Ireland job yesterday with the 54 year-old insisting that he is happily contracted to Ipswich for the foreseeable future and that Martin O’Neill is, in any case, “ a shoo-in” for the job.
“I’m not surprised (to be linked with the position) because I did a good job last time,” said McCarthy at his regular Ipswich press conference yesterday. “But Martin O’Neill is getting the job as far as I’m aware. That’s totally nailed on; he’s a shoo-in for it.
“He’s ex-Celtic and is a damn good manager. My understanding is that he’s got the job. Good luck to him, I’m delighted.”
McCarthy, who previously had the Ireland job for six years, had previously suggested that he would be interested in returning for a second stint after spells at Sunderland, Wolves and now Portman Road.
His contract with his current employers originally had a clause in it allowing him to leave for the job in the event that it came up but the former international defender maintains that he was merely keeping his options open at a more uncertain time and, having kept Ipswich up last season, he is committed to the job now.
“I had an agreement with Marcus (Evans, the club’s owner),” he confirmed, “but that’s no longer there so it makes no odds now. I also had an agreement that if we went down then Marcus could get shot of me or I could get shot of myself.
“When I took the job in November,” he continued, “the team was rock-bottom and everything was a bit unsure. I thought it was right that I asked for that at that time, but also that it wasn’t fair that it continued into a new season. Once the season started I wanted everyone to know I was the manager here. I didn’t ask (for the Ireland clause) to go until the end of the qualifiers. I think that shows you what feeling and loyalty I have to here.”
Pressed on whether he might still be interested in the event that O’Neill is not appointed, he replied: “I’m not going to clarify or deny anything. The process of elimination is, if Martin O’Neill did turn it down, which is not going to happen, then somebody should go to (Ipswich owner) Marcus Evans.
“But I’ve not courted it or fanned the flames at all. I’m not going to do that now. I was asked in here, when Giovanni was under pressure, do you fancy it? And I said ‘yes I would at some stage’, but I’m in a job and it’s not the right time. I’m loving what I’m doing here. Martin O’Neill is out of work and he can walk straight into the job. I think he’s perfect for them.”
McCarthy’s decision to rule himself out of the running, at least as long as O’Neill is in it, removes one of the very few serious options available to the FAI if they wanted to make a swift appointment so as to avoid a long drawn out selection process.
The expectation is that the northerner will have been sounded out about the extent of his interest in the position before the board meets next week, possibly Wednesday, and that if there appears to be the basis for an agreement then he may simply be offered the job.
If agreement can’t be reached with O’Neill for whatever reason, then it is likely that a committee of some kind will be established, most likely made up of former players or coaches as it was six years ago, to scout out suitably qualified candidates.
Neil Lennon, meanwhile, has backed O’Neill for the job. The 42 year-old, who was a key player for O’Neill at both Leicester and Celtic, says that O’Neill’s record is clearly good enough to justify him being offered the post.
“He’s a brilliant manager,” he said, one of the best British managers of the last 20 odd years so of course he would be a good fit, yeah.”