Top five contenders for the vacant Republic of Ireland managerial job
2. Mick McCarthy
With over ten years of experience in football management, including a very successful six-year stint with the Irish national team, the current Ipswich boss is many fans’ and pundits’ favourite to succeed Giovanni Trapattoni if Martin O’Neill pulls out of the reckoning.
Mick McCarthy’s astute managerial skills in guiding Championship sides Sunderland and Wolverhampton Wanderers to the Premier League have led him to be regarded as one of Ireland’s finest managers in the modern era who can make lower league and academy players shine at the big stage. Though the 54-year-old former Ireland international has publicly admitted his desire to stay at Ipswich and guide them to at least a Championship play-off place for the current season, many believe McCarthy’s second homecoming would be a matter of time if Martin O’Neill declines the challenge to manage an international team for the very first time.
One thing that might hinder Mick McCarthy’s candidature is the fact that many Irish fans and football experts unfairly blame him for his very public spat with star player Roy Keane during Ireland’s successful 2002 FIFA World Cup that saw the former Manchester United legend fly home from training at Saipan even before the team had kicked a ball. With sentiments back home utterly divided, McCarthy managed to galvanize the side that narrowly lost to Spain in a penalty shoot-out in the pre-quarterfinal, having missed a penalty in normal time.
His public snub of the then star player Roy Keane proved that at international level team work trumps individual player power. And McCarthy, even though he unfortunately lost his job soon after under sheer pressure, has made a name for himself of being tough, plain speaking and full of international reputation to be back as the new Ireland manager for a second time. Ireland need someone like Mick McCarthy who understands the country, its football and youth set up and who already knows what it takes to bring the best out of a small yet proud football nation at the international level.