Saturday 21 April 2018

FAI happy to play waiting game

Martin O'Neill remains the favourite to replace Giovanni Trapattoni
Martin O'Neill remains the favourite to replace Giovanni Trapattoni

Dion Fanning

There has been no change in the FAI's thinking about the appointment of a successor to Giovanni Trapattoni and Martin O'Neill remains the favourite, even though it is now very unlikely that a permanent manager will be appointed before the games against Germany and Kazakhstan next month.

The FAI will inform players this Friday that they have been selected for those games and that process will probably be done by a caretaker whose identity will be agreed when the Board of Management meet this week.

The FAI have always stressed that there was no urgency to appoint a new manager and there is a feeling that with Denis O'Brien again part-funding the manager's salary, they should take their time and ensure that the right candidate for the next campaign is appointed.

O'Neill is still viewed as the "main man", according to one well-informed source, but the FAI will want to be prepared in the event that he decides he wants to return to club management and they have to explore other options.

In the wake of Trapattoni's departure and O'Neill's comments in a radio interview that he was ready to get back into management – an interview in which he also stressed there had been no contact with the FAI – it was felt that the appointment could be made immediately.

"Ideally it would be nice to have a manager in place for the games in October, but that's not a must because it's 12 months until we play our first European qualifiers in September," John Delaney told Sky in the wake of Trapattoni's departure.

The FAI are not to rush into an appointment, especially for a game in Germany which may not be an attractive proposition for a manager in his first game.

"It is more important that we take time to make the right appointment," Delaney said in Ballinasloe last week. "We have time on our hands. Next September is our next qualifying game of importance.

"The games against Germany and Kazakhstan are not of importance in terms of qualifying for the World Cup finals. That is not going to happen. We all accept that."

Against that, an early appointment would allow a new manager 10 days to work with the players, time that will not be available to him again until the end of this season.

O'Neill was the only candiate likely to be appointed for those games. The FAI are still eager to offer him the job and his level of interest will be established over the coming days.

If he is not the next manager, Mick McCarthy is seen as a viable alternative, although there would be a longer process with the FAI establishing the degree of interest which has already been high. The former Valencia and Inter manager Hector Cuper was one of the first to declare and he is eager to meet with the FAI to discuss his ideas for the job.

Sunday Independent

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