Martin O’Neill has emerged as an unbackable favourite to take over as Republic Of Ireland manager from Trapattoni . Bookmakers have essentially closed the book on the appointment of the next Irish manager although it seems unlikely that O’Neill will be in position to take on Germany next month.
O’Neill’s last appointment was a disappointing stint in charge of Sunderland in a spell which was marked by poor performances on the field leading him to being eventually replaced by Paolo Di Canio. Previous to that O’Neill had taken charge of Aston Villa where he managed to get the Birmingham side as high as 6th on three occasions before leaving the club early in the 2010 season citing differences in transfer policies between the manager and Randy Lerner.
In the seasons preceding his departure from Aston Villa O’Neill’s stock had never been higher. O’Neill was hugely successful in Scotland with Celtic and seemed destined for a position in one of English football’s biggest jobs, he was mentioned as a possible successor to Ferguson at Old Trafford and was the favourite to take over from Benitez at Liverpool before Hodgson took the job.
There are a few questions that come with appointing O’Neill as manager. O’Neill’s brand of football relies on direct wingers creating most of the play. Whether it was Steve Guppy at Leicester City, Thomson and Agathe as flying wing backs for Celtic or Ashley Young and Stewart Downing at Villa: it was a consistent feature of his teams. Will this work for Ireland?
More often than not Ireland have struggled when teams play 3 midfielders against our traditional 4-4-2, so can O’Neill adapt his style to meet the demands of international football or was it his inability to adapt that saw the failure of his Sunderland team?
There is no doubt that O’Neill is adept at getting teams to play better than the sum of their parts and the part time nature of international football management may find him reinvigorated and willing to try new methods. Either way O’Neill will prove to be a popular choice by the FAI after the divisive tenure of Trapattoni.