Republic of Ireland coach John Eustace takes Birmingham City job

Stephen Kenny appears to be seeking a fourth new coach in two years

With John Eustace replacing Lee Bowyer as Birmingham City manager, Stephen Kenny appears to be seeking a fourth new coach for the Republic of Ireland in just two years.

Eustace only joined the Ireland camp in March, when Belgium headhunted Anthony Barry ahead of the World Cup in Qatar, with the Englishman maintaining his day job as Queens Park Rangers coach.

Barry had replaced Damien Duff after the Ireland legend felt his position was untenable due to an FAI investigation into a video that was shown to the players before their November 2020 defeat to England at Wembley. Alan Kelly also stepped down as goalkeeping coach in January 2021, to be replaced by Dean Kiely. But it was Duff’s shock exit and the 1-0 home defeat to Luxembourg two months later heaped enormous pressure on Kenny’s management.

Mounting concerns proved premature as Barry introduced Chelsea’s 3-4-2-1 system straight off the training ground where he works full-time, before a run of four wins, five draws and a narrow defeat in Portugal helped to convince the FAI board that Kenny deserved a two-year contract extension to take Ireland to Euro 2024 in Germany.

“He’s thought-provoking and he challenges some concepts, so he’s interesting and I feel that he’s a really good person as well, and he’ll bring a humility to the group,” said Kenny on Eustace’s appointment. “I think he’ll do a good job.”

Ireland won two, drew two and lost twice during Eustace’s brief stint, which also included a formation shift to 3-5-2.

Gavin Cummiskey

Gavin Cummiskey

Gavin Cummiskey is The Irish Times' Soccer Correspondent