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Life After Stan

Now that Ireland boss Steve Staunton has finally been put out his misery, the FAI must start searching for a successor.

Tony Cascarino, 06 Nov 2007

So Stan’s gone. It’s been a very unhappy two years. I don’t think anyone’s angry at Stan personally, but people are justifiably annoyed with FAI for putting him in that position in the first place. A lot of people were very confused by the appointment, and felt that since he didn’t have any experience, he clearly wasn’t ready for a job of that size. Sadly, they were proved right, and everyone’s worst fears were confirmed. It was a wild gamble, and we’re paying the price now, having missed out on a third straight tournament.

The FAI have to take the responsibility. I don’t know where Stan goes from here: there might be an opportunity for him to manage in the lower leagues, but he’s hardly going to be head-hunted by UK Premiership or even Championship clubs. Basically, he’ll find it very difficult to get back into football management, assuming he even wants to.

We’re now entering months of endless speculation about who’s going to take over. We have to be realistic about what calibre of manager we can attract. At the salary on offer, there just isn’t any hope of landing a Jose Mourinho or Arsene Wenger. Wages in the Premiership are huge, and if we’re going to get a top manager, it won’t come cheap. We’ve got to match the Premiership going rate. I’d like to think they’ll push the boat out more than they have done: we need someone who’s going to lift the country. We’re at such a low point now that going cheap just isn’t an option. We can’t afford to keep missing out on tournaments.

I think it’s important that whoever we go for, it’s someone who has a background in the British game, which is where all the Irish players are. It’d be a mistake to go for a foreigner: Scotland tried that with Berti Vogts, who had a very good CV and had won a European Championship, but he was a disaster in charge of Scotland cause he wasn’t familiar with the domestic set-up. The turnaround since he left speaks for itself. I think we need to take a leaf out of Scotland’s book, and keep it in-house rather than going after foreigners who don’t know too much about our football.

I’ve noticed that the great Dave O’Leary is favourite on all the bookie’s lists. Regular readers might be aware that I’m not exactly Mr. O’Leary’s biggest fan. Even putting aside my personal feelings, I think he’d be a disastrous choice. If he gets the job, you can expect two years of ‘We’re only a tiny little nation with three million little people, and we can’t hope to compete with the Faroe Islands and San Marino’s.’ He isn’t particularly popular within the game, and when he was in charge of Leeds, he never stopped making ridiculous comments. He has a special gift for rubbing people up the wrong way. His time in charge of Villa was a disaster. He’s not the man to take us forward, end of story. The problem is, I’d bet he’s well connected in the FAI. He’s always gone out of his way to curry favour with people in high positions - he knows all the chairmen’s names. I’m sure he’s in with the right people in the FAI – he’s done that all his life. On that basis, I won’t be shocked if he gets the job.

Paul Jewell, on the other hand, strikes me as an excellent choice, if we could get him. He did great work at Bradford and Wigan, and he’s known for getting the best out of players who aren’t necessarily world-beaters. His teams are always very solid, organised and competitive. He left Wigan saying he was burnt out, and I suspect that he doesn’t want the stress of day-to-day club management, so this job could be perfect for him. I’d certainly have him very high on the list. I can’t see any negatives.

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