Martin O’Neill appears to be the leading candidate for the Republic of Ireland vacancy, which become available following the departure of Giovanni Trapattoni.
The Italian legend has been in charge of the Irish since February 2008, and he led them to the European Championship Finals last year. He was expected to build on this and guide them to the 2014 World Cup Finals in Brazil, despite being placed in Group C with Germany, Sweden and Austria, whilst minnows Kazakhstan and the Faroe Islands made up the numbers.
However, following a 1-0 defeat in Vienna, courtesy of a late David Alaba goal, Ireland are six points adrift of the second place Swedes with just two matches remaining. And whilst it is still mathematically possible they could sneak into a qualifier, it is highly unlikely, and this has resulted in the Football Association announcing the departure of the 74-year-old.
“I want to thank everyone in Ireland who has given us their support during our time here, which has always meant a lot to us,” said Trapattoni, whose assistant Marco Tardelli has also left. “We leave this country with emotion because we understand the Irish supporters who have a well-deserved international reputation and they have our utmost respect.”
Former Northern Ireland international O’Neill has been placed as the favourite to succeed Trapattoni. The 61-year-old has been out of work since being sacked by Sunderland in March, but he remains a highly respected coach following his previous work, which includes winning the League Cup twice with Leicester City and guiding Celtic to three league titles.