Cheaper by the (half) dozen: Six candidates who could replace Martin O'Neill as manager of Ireland 2 years ago

Cheaper by the (half) dozen: Six candidates who could replace Martin O'Neill as manager of Ireland

Irish football is not in a good place at the moment.

Let's call a spade a spade, this year has been fairly dreadful for Irish football.


It was a year that saw us fail to reach the World Cup in heartbreaking fashion, get relegated from our Nations League group, scandal after scandal emerge from the camp, and the apparent loss of our most exciting player.

And it has ended with both Martin O'Neill and Roy Keane leaving their jobs as the manager and assistant manager of Ireland.

We aren't putting the entirety of the blame on Martin O'Neill, but he had to leave eventually, so let's think about who might be a possibility to replace him.

But who do we get in? Who the hell would even want the job?

We weighed up the most realistic options and looked at the pros and cons of each potential candidate.

Sam Allardyce


Don't laugh. We're serious.

Big Sam's style of play isn't pretty by any means, but it could suit us down to the ground (which is ironic, because that's exactly where the ball wouldn't be every time we got it).

Think about it. Our footballing philosophy as a nation appears to be to lump it long and put the other team under pressure, two things that Big Sam knows like the back of his extremely large hands.

It's a pity that we've got ourselves into this position, but Big Sam could be the man to make the best of the situation.

He can also boast a 100% win record as England manager. Who cares that it was only two games?


Chris Hughton

Chris Hughton would be a very popular choice to manage the Boys in Green.

Who wouldn't want him? He's an undeniably great manager and he's also one of the longest-serving managers in the Premier League, which in today's environment, is an extremely impressive feat.

As well as that, he was capped 53 times for the Irish national team, so he probably has a bit of a grá for the whole thing. 


The only issue is that he's doing a damn good job at Brighton, so we can't see him wanting to leave anytime soon.

Ah well, we can dream.

Brian Kerr

Brian Kerr


Manager of the Republic of Ireland isn't the job we really want for Brian Kerr.

What he should be is 100% involved in all youth development and scouting for young players in Ireland.

He's the best we've ever had in that regard, and it's criminal that he's not involved in some way.

But that's a different story, which you can read about more here.

He needs to be involved in football in this country in some way, and if that means making him the manager of the senior team (again), then so be it.

Stephen Kenny

From a footballing perspective, Kenny might be the most exciting candidate on this list.

Wherever he goes, a slick brand of football goes with him. A style of football that this Irish team could only dream of playing.

Ireland playing risky football out from the back may end in heartbreak, but it would be brilliant to see.

Can you remember the last time that Irish players trusted each other to take a risky pass? Or to take the ball under pressure?

For whatever reason, that doesn't currently happen, and someone who could change that would be a welcome addition to the set-up.

Michael O'Neill

We could just do a straight swap with Northern Ireland. They could even swap their tracksuit jackets and the initials will still be right.

O'Neill has the Northern Irish team playing lovely football and although they didn't qualify for the most recent World Cup either, you could make an argument that they are the superior side at the moment.

A friendly between the two sides at the Aviva Stadium in November could be quite telling in that regard.

Mick McCarthy

Could you imagine? Something tells us he would definitely take the job if offered but he was far too diplomatic to say so when the prospect was raised in the media recently.

After all, we haven't qualified for a World Cup since McCarthy was in charge 16 years ago and maybe he's the man to lead us to the promised land again.

And as of last week, he was the bookies' favourite to be the next manager when O'Neill leaves, so don't be too surprised if it happens...