Martin O’Neill was tipped up by this column as the one most likely to succeed Alex Ferguson as Manchester United boss. The Derryman didn’t get that highly-paid post, but is favourite to get one that some would argue is more prestigious. He’s odds-on, in fact, to take over from Giovanni Trapattoni as Republic of Ireland manager, clear in the betting ahead of Mick McCarthy and Roy Keane.
Others might come out of the woodwork before an appointment is made, but unlikely to be among them are any of the three who sit in judgement in the RTE television studio whenever the international side is playing. Pity that.
Whatever about before a game, Johnny Giles, Liam Brady and Eamonn Dunphy, the former and latter, in particular, have all the answers after it, making you want to ask the question: well, if you know so much, why don’t you have a go yourself.
Giles and Dunphy have been scathing in their criticism of Trapattoni. If they believed the talent wasn’t there, that too much responsibility was being heaped on the team’s mainstays, Robbie Keane and Richard Dunne, both 33, they haven’t been shouting it out loud.
Trapattoni hadn’t players with the ability of those who made the Charlton era great, and helped Mick McCarthy achieve a goal that’s been beyond many other managers of international status. That, basically, is the reason why Ireland won’t be going to Rio.
When the long-servers, the likes of the two already mentioned and John O’Shea were younger, Trapattoni guided his side to the finals of one major campaign and was unlucky not to make another. Those legs aren’t running as fast as before; but, more tellingly, many of the others making up the team are not of game-winning international standard.
It might be worth taking a note of what the three wise men have to say when the new manager is named, and then compare it with their after-match comments. If there’s consistency, then well and good.