Sport

Saturday 26 July 2014

George Byrne: Martin O'Neill is available, but for a reason

Published 14/09/2013|09:32

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Martin O'Neill
Martin O'Neill

Well, at least that particular farce is over. With the departure of Giovanni Trapattoni and his team the reign of error that has been glaringly obvious over the past couple of years has finally come to an end.

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Another manager would have torn up his contract and walked after the embarrassment inflicted on the Republic of Ireland at Euro 2012. But no, another 15 months of torture lay in store.

Trapattoni may feel that he did “a great job” – oh yes, Ireland down to 59th in the FIFA rankings, our worst placing since the listings began in the early 1990s.

Mille grazie, Giovanni – but if, as most people are suggesting, Martin O'Neill gets the job, then I fear we're in for another torrid time.

The argument goes that O'Neill is available and, yes, that's true, but he's available for a reason. His last tenure at Sunderland didn't go well at all.

For starters he didn't move to the area (sound familiar?) and, according to an interview with Sunderland's fanzine editor last Thursday his tactics were “stagnant, boring and predictable” (hmm).

As was the case with previous gigs at Leicester City, Celtic and Aston Villa, O’Neill was reluctant to bring young players through the ranks (Hang on a minute). Plus ca change, as Thierry Henry might say.

O'Neill is as old school in his footballing ways as Trap. If he gets the gig we can expect to see a lot more pigeon endangerment and a raft of handy caps for Conor Sammon – yippie-do.

When Eamon Dunphy is clamouring for something, then restraint and a cool head is required — but that seems unlikely in this case.

Call me cynical (Never, George - Ed) but I get the sense that the FAI might be more bothered with a full house for our final group game, the dead rubber against Kazahkstan next month.

O'Neill's tenure at Celtic, where he was successful in a Mickey Mouse league with only one real rival, will pull in the punters in their droves and go some way to covering the pay-off to Trapattoni & Co.

All welcome Irish football's brave new dawn.

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