Givens: it was my decision to quit

DON GIVENS insists it was his decision to step down as Ireland U21 manager, although he concedes that pressure was building on him in the wake of the recent home defeat to Armenia which capped a dismal run of results for his charges.

“It was my decision,” he said, speaking from his home in England last night. “I know that things were building anyway a little bit, there’s no getting away from that, but it was my decision. I spoke to the association and between us we came up with a change of role.

“I feel a little bit of disappointment in some ways, in particular with the last couple of performances. I know that before that we hadn’t won games but I felt we had deserved to win most of them. But the two performances against Armenia were very disappointing and probably prompted me to look at things and see that maybe the time was right to change the role.”

Givens’ new role will involve him overseeing the FAI’s UK-based scouting network, continuing to work closely with the underage and senior international set-up through High Performance Director Wim Koevermans and senior manager Giovanni Trapattoni.

“I suppose I would sum it up as being chief scout,” said Givens.

“I know that, certainly lately in the U21 squad, there’s usually been two or three boys from the League of Ireland but most of the players who are progressing towards the international team are over here. And I’ll be very much involved in organising that at all levels, including the women’s team. I’ll also be liaising a little bit with Giovanni as regards young players.”

Givens also says that his role could encompass scouting players who can declare for the Republic under FIFA’s new eligibility rules.

“I should think if one of those players needs watching, from a senior point of view or monitored over a little while, then all that comes into it,” said the former international striker, prior to heading off to Villa Park to watch last night’s Aston Villa-Sunderland game.

Dutchman Wim Koevermans is the man charged with the responsibility of finding a replacement for Givens.

With the side not due to play another competitive game until August, the High Performance Director is under no pressure to come up with an immediate appointment. His first task will be to draw up the criteria for the position and then to start the head-hunting process. The board of the FAI will have to ratify his nomination but that is expected to be no more than rubber-stamping of Koevermans’ recommendation. Trapattoni will also be consulted as part of the process.

The FAI announced yesterday that Givens was relinquishing his post after almost 10 years in the role, his departure coming in the wake of a 2-1 home loss to Armenia which left Ireland rooted to the bottom of their group with just four points from seven games.

In the immediate aftermath of that defeat to Armenia in Tallaght, Givens came out fighting in defence of his job, saying he had no intention of quitting.

“I will consider my position if somebody in the FAI comes to me and says it but I certainly would not be going on journalists’ opinions,” he told reporters.

Meanwhile, Pete Mahon thinks the FAI should look to the Airtricity League for a replacement for Givens, with the current St Pats manager nominating former Richmond Park boss Johnny McDonnell as the ideal candidate.

“It’s a very prestigious position, that U21 manager’s job,” says Mahon. “It would be a great job to get for anybody. Of the managers here at home who are currently not working, I think Johnny McDonnell would be the ideal candidate. It would give the whole league here a boost, though I don’t think it will happen. I think they’ll go for somebody across the water.”

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