FAI chief executive John Delaney has heaped praise on Martin O’Neill as both a man and a manager, but stopped short of confirming his candidacy for the Ireland job.
Saying it would be unfair to comment on individuals who might be in the frame to succeed Giovanni Trapattoni, Delaney said filling the post “will take a little bit of time” — a hint, perhaps, there will be significant developments sooner rather than later.
“I have no problem saying Martin O’Neill has been a terrific manager in his career, a terrific man and I admire him very, very much,” said the FAI chief executive. “But I wouldn’t comment on Martin O’Neill or any other person as to whether they will be the next Ireland manager because that would be unfair.
“We are in a process. I would love today to be announcing whoever the new manager is if that were possible, but it’s not. It will take a little bit of time given the fact the board of the FAI have yet to meet. We will look at the job description, who has applied and then the process as to who to appoint.
“There has been a lot of interest in it. There are many credible candidates who have already applied and I won’t get into anyone individually but what I will say, the minute Giovanni (left), there has been a big interest in the job and there are reasons for that.
“Twenty-four teams go to the ((2014) Euros so it is easier to qualify and, despite what some people have said, we do have good young players. Very good young players: Coleman, Long, McCarthy and others. Denis O’Brien has been brilliant supporting the manager project and is staying on for at least another two years so that gives us the support in the market if we so wish to attract, I won’t say big names, but a good manager. All of that has made the job very attractive.”
Delaney also reiterated his openness to the idea of working with Roy Keane, the Corkman having expressed an interest in the Ireland job as well as being floated in some quarters as a possible assistant to Martin O’Neill.
“Saipan is gone now and people have to forget about it,” said the FAI boss. “It is 10 or 11 years ago. To be fair to him, he gets asked about it. I will work with whoever is presented to us to make Irish football great — no personal issues that may have been there in the past should stop people working together for the sake of Irish football.”
Meanwhile, the latest name to be linked with the Ireland job is that of Dick Advocaat, the Dutchman who was in charge of Russia when Giovanni Trapattoni’s team had them as rivals in qualifying for Euro 2012. Advocaat — who, as Rangers boss, came off second-best to Martin O’Neill’s Celtic earlier in the decade — announced his retirement from club football at the end of last season after a spell at PSV Eindhoven.
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