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Noel is keen but who will be king?


Republic of Ireland interim manager Noel King. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE

Republic of Ireland interim manager Noel King. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE

Republic of Ireland interim manager Noel King. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE

NOEL KING'S mellifluous Dublinese echoed across the long acre on the Portmarnock seafront and Ireland's best footballers gave him their best attention.

It was a balmy 20 degrees on the seafront and even Giovanni Trapattoni would have felt at home. Certainly, the warm air leant itself to a relaxed atmosphere and King's barked commands were at odds with the mood.

It was hard to fathom what the players thought about King and the drills he put them through but he showed as much 'enthusiasmos' as Trapattoni did and at least this time, the players knew what he was talking about.

It's an easy point to make and maybe a cheap shot at Trapattoni but it was very refreshing to hear instructions being doled out on an Ireland training pitch which everyone present understood.

It was equally nice to be able to take notes at the Ireland manager's press conference without the customary committee meeting to figure out exactly what had been said or if some things had been said at all.

But, of course, this is all shadow boxing. Until a new manager is in place, King must do what he can to keep the ball rolling.

If this was a full-time appointment, it would be very important to know how the players react to King but since he only has the wheel for a short spell and FAI CEO John Delaney made it very clear that he is interim and interim only, we can only hope that they give him their best for two games which mean nothing in competitive terms but could be very significant indeed for the future.

There is little doubt that there will be many unemployed managers and a few currently in jobs who will take a closer look than usual at the team King puts out in Cologne on Friday night.

Another tanking from Joachim Loew's lads and some may shrug their shoulders and think that this is a position which would be good for someone else. A decent show from King's motley collection of Trapattoni stalwarts and the forgiven few will make the job as appealing as the salary is likely to be.

The search for a successor goes on, with Martin O'Neill yet to give a definitive answer.


Other avenues are being pursued, no doubt down the same avenues used before.

Trapattoni arrived via a throwaway remark by Eddie Jordan on the phone to Denis O'Brien.

"I think in a throwaway line I said, 'Denis, you ought to (finance Trapattoni). That is just what is needed'," Jordan said.

"That's not going to happen without somebody putting their hands in their pocket. He rang me up later and said, 'What do you think?' and I said that (Trapattoni) is good.

"He's been around for centuries and, with no disrespect to the managers that we have had, we need somebody with international acclaim who knows what he is doing."

It is unknown whether Jordan will once again have a hand in the appointment of an Ireland manager but the anecdote he tells came months into the search for a new man and shows the almost accidental nature of the appointment.

Presumably, O'Brien and the other big figures with close football connections are active again in this latest search and at the very least, we can expect a few decent names in the hat if O'Neill eventually says no.

All those named so far as potential recruits have become less appealing with time for one reason or another and short of Guus Hiddink taking the bait currently being offered, it could very well end up as a straight fight between Roy Keane and Mick McCarthy, a thought that fills the heart with foreboding.

Keane hasn't said he's not interested in the job which probably means he would snap your hand off if it was offered. But will it ever be offered?

It's hard to see Roy sitting across a table being interviewed by the FAI Board – which leaves McCarthy and while he is a serious option, pretty much everyone would like to see something new and exciting.

So the next two games are a bit of an audition for the national team and King's team selection and tactics are very important indeed. He does seem very aware of that.


He has his own agenda, of course and good luck to him.

It was perhaps harsh for the FAI to take him off the list as a possible full-time candidate but he can do himself an awful of good at home and abroad if he can somehow conjure two good results from these two games.

From a brief look at training yesterday, it did seem as if the players were listening as much out of politeness as anything else but that may change.

King told us that he would have a meeting later in the evening and that once he had had his say about the current state of play and reviewed the games which brought Ireland to this managerless position, some might not like what he has to say.

A few home truths never did any harm at all. It would surely be a good thing if the players recognise their own role in Trapattoni's downfall and learn from it.