McCarthy and Kenny backed for Ireland job as Hughton rules himself out

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Former Republic of Ireland captain Andy Townsend can see merits for Mick McCarthy or Stephen Kenny replacing Martin O’Neill as manager.

On the day Brighton boss Chris Hughton ruled himself out of the running to replace O’Neill, former boss McCarthy and Dundalk manager Kenny were standing as the two apparent front-runners.

It was reported that McCarthy will meet with the Football Association of Ireland this weekend to discuss returning for a second spell in charge, while Kenny had said it would be the “ultimate honour” to land the job.

Mick McCarthy has done the job before
Mick McCarthy has done the job before (Haydn West/PA)

“Stephen Kenny is a League of Ireland manager who’s done exceptionally well and there’s something quite interesting about giving the job to someone like him.

“It’s quite exciting to see someone like Stephen in with a chance, but you also want to qualify and with Mick’s experience, he would score heavily with that.”

McCarthy left Ipswich in April
McCarthy left Ipswich in April (Joe Giddens/PA)

“The problem for me is that the biggest change needs to happen (upstairs), that has to be sooner rather than later,” he added.

“I think that may be easier for someone like Mick to handle. There’s no suggestion John Delaney should pass the baton on, but he should.”

Hughton would also have been a stand-out candidate, but the former Republic international has ruled himself out.

Asked at a press conference ahead of his side’s Premier League game against Leicester he said: “No. What I am very interested in is the job that I am doing here.”

The FAI is hoping to make a swift appointment, with the draw for the Euro 2020 finals due to take place in Dublin on December 2.

McCarthy, who has been out of work since leaving Ipswich in April, is believed to be keen on the role he relinquished after the 2002 World Cup and has the support of long-time Ireland left-back Ian Harte, who believes there is nobody better equipped for the job.

Harte tweeted: “Who is the best person to become manager of Ireland? If it was me I would have Mick McCarthy all day long!!!

“Mick is proven at International level. Plus what he achieved at @Official_ITFC was remarkable as on a shoestring budget! And for me he is brilliant at motivating players.”

Kenny’s name has also been mentioned and he told the Dundalk Democrat: “I think managing your country is the ultimate honour.

“If you offered me the job of managing Real Madrid or Barcelona or Ireland, I would choose to manage Ireland because it’s the greatest honour you can have as an Irishman.”

Former Republic midfielder Keith Andrews believes O’Neill paid the price for an outdated approach as his side won just once in nine games in 2018.

“The first three-quarters of this reign has to be seen as a successful period,” Andrews said during The Debate on Sky Sports.

“The areas where it falls down… 10 years ago that type of management may well have worked, and we have a lot of players that have retired in the last year to two that would have been used to that type of management. But players now need different requirements.

“So if Martin is that kind of man-management, quirky manager that we’re used to seeing on TV and interviews, that’s fine, but then your back-room staff have to complement that. And if that’s not the case it’s going to fall down, especially when players are getting the level of detail that they are getting now at club level. It doesn’t happen with this Ireland team.

“Progressively it had got worse, going from game to game, systems not similar, players playing out of position; Cyrus Christie being a prime example playing central midfield the last few games, like a fish out of water. I’ve got sympathy for him but it simply hasn’t worked and it’s the right time to change.”

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