- Lifestyle & Sports
- 11 Jan 18
We're also putting a sneaky tenner on Jim McGuinness! But there's growing speculation about Carlo Ancelotti...
The Celtic and Northern Ireland legend told Hot Press last year that he's not ready yet for international management, but his success in the dug-out at first Parkhead, and now Easter Road won't have gone unnoticed by the FAI. A keen admirer of the League of Ireland - "I don't think people here realise how good it is," he told our man Stuart Clark – he's managed to get the best out of the errant Anthony Stokes at Hibs, and would certainly liven the Ireland dressing-room up with his Oasis and Stiff Little Fingers CDs. Odds: 4/1
Also one of the frontrunners to succeed Gordon Strachan as Scotland gaffer, Hot Press' 2015 Manager of the Year has achieved footballing miracles with a Northern Ireland squad that, a smattering of West Brom players aside, has to rely on lesser-known Championship, League One and SPL talents. His ability to make Kyle Laverty look anything other than a donkey is one of the international game's greatest feats, and his successful tenure at Shamrock Rovers means that he understands the inner machinations of the FAI. A tactical realist who'll park the bus when necessary, his ability to turn sow's ears into silk purses makes him a frontrunner to take-over from the other O'Neill. Odds: 4/1
No, don't look at us like that! Were they to miss out on Champions League football again this year, Arsenal chiefs might have no other option but to pull the plug on Wenger's record-breaking stay in North London. While there will be no shortage of potential club suitors, he might prefer the slightly gentler pace of international management and would already be alert to Ireland's strengths and weaknesses. We wouldn't be surprised if he's already chatted to Liam Brady about it... Odds: 25/1
We know for a fact that the former Stoke and West Brom manager has his admirers among the upper FAI echelons. While not always pretty to watch, Pullis is adept at making his sides hard to beat, and when the opportunity arises isn't afraid to go on the attack. His appointment mightn't necessarily be a popular one, but his no nonsense style might be just what the Boys In Green are looking for. Odds: 15/1
Anyone who can win an All-Ireland with a team from Donegal has to be in the running. McGuinness is not just a supreme motivator, as that remarkable achievement underlined: there are geographical as well as sporting reasons why Jim McGuinness might be the ideal choice. A number of key members of the current Irish squad come from the North West, including Shane Duffy, James McClean and Eunan O’Kane from Derry and captain Seamus Coleman from Donegal. Having worked with Celtic and with Beijing Guoan in China, by this stage he surely knows the difference between bog ball and beautiful game. Odds: 5/1
A straight job-swap? It isn’t entirely out of the question. Hughes has managed with considerable success at a high level with Manchester City and – his recent travails notwithstanding – did well over a number of years to make Stoke a consistent mid-table proposition. His five years in charge of Wales mean that he knows the international scene inside out. Could be the man to finally bring Stephen Ireland back into the fold. If we want him… Odds: 10/1
As a close observer of the Irish team in action for over 30 years, is there anyone who knows the strengths and weaknesses of Irish football better? His lack of senior managerial experience might be seen as disadvantage, but when has that ever stopped a man of outstanding, um, conviction from achieving the impossible? Pen-throwing scenes in the dressing room might be a hazard to the players’ eyes, but he could be the man to turn Ireland into a mini-Barcelona. Not a good manager – a great manager, albeit at an embryonic stage of his development. Wes Hoolahan would surely run the show with him in charge. Odds: 15/1
Was part of the Irish set-up as Assistant Manager between 2003 and 2005, so he knows the turf. One of the few Irishman to achieve major managerial success, he is quiet, intelligent and tactically astute. He did well at Newcastle – and dealing with John Delaney should be a doddle after the inevitable shenanigans under Mike Ashley. His achievement in taking Brighton into the Premiership is a remarkable one. Would make Brighton's Shane Duffy a defensive lynchpin. Potentially a great catch for the FAI, but might be difficult to prise away from the daily hurly-burly. Odds: 25/1
The switch may have come too quickly for the former West Ham manager, who wants a bit of time away from the game. His old smoking habit might also represent a serious obstacle in the context the new puritanism that has been sweeping Ireland. But who knows? Bilic has demonstrated his international managerial pedigree, guiding his native Croatia to considerable success between 2006 and 2012. A widely praised stint at Besiktas in Turkey led to his appointment at West Ham, where he did well, until the switch to a new stadium upset the apple cart. Odds: 40/1
AND, FINALLY, THE ONE WE REALLY WANT...
How much does Denis O’Brien really have in the bank? If John Delaney can seduce him into spending an additional €5 million per annum on the Irish cause, then Carlo Ancelotti could indeed be the man to take over from Martin O’Neill. He may not be a bundle of laughs, but having managed at Juventus, AC Milan, Chelsea, Paris St. Germain, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich, Carlo (as we know know him here in Hot Press) has an extraordinary win ratio, better even than Alex Ferguson, across what has been a hugely successful career to date, with 607 wins in 1030 games – delivering a win percentage of 58.93 (and far fewer losses than draws). A league winner in Italy, France, Spain, Germany and England (with Chelsea), and a renowned tactical genius and innovator, Ancelotti would doubtless relish the challenge of turning a team of what have been dismissed by some clearly misguided commentators as journey-man pros into an unstoppable global force. Would be sure to get the most out of Glenn Whelan. Odds: 1000/1