Mark Hughes has warned Steve Staunton that international management is “a thankless task“, but one that can bring unbelievable rewards.
Staunton today embarks on his new role as Republic of Ireland boss as the FAI are expected to confirm his appointment on a four-year contract.
Staunton will be advised and mentored by former England manager Sir Bobby Robson, with Aston Villa reserve-team manager Kevin MacDonald taking up the role as coach, while former Blackburn and Sheffield United number one Alan Kelly steps in as goalkeeping coach.
Although winning a record 102 caps for his country, Staunton is now venturing into unknown territory given his lack of experience in management.
Other than a few months as player-coach at Walsall this season, with the Coca-Cola League One club yesterday clearing the way for his new role by releasing him from his contract, Staunton is a managerial rookie in every sense.
But then so was Hughes when he took up the challenge of becoming Wales manager in August 1999, with the now Blackburn boss crucially given time to make his mark after an indifferent start.
“Being an international manager can be a difficult job and a thankless task,” remarked Hughes.
“It is also a job that can be very rewarding and very frustrating in equal measure, but it was a fantastic experience for myself. It was a real education, and from my point of view I would recommend it to anybody.
“When you get the opportunity to manage your country, it’s an opportunity you should always take. If Steve had come to me prior to the appointment and asked me whether it would be a good decision to take up the post, I would have said ’yes’.
“The key is trying to pre-empt and work out what may happen. That makes you a better organiser and as a result you can better affect the outcome on those things that may happen.”
Hughes believes the bonus for Staunton is he will be working with Robson, even if at face value the two men would appear to represent something of an odd couple.
“He’ll be a great help,” said Hughes on Robson. “I didn’t have somebody as high profile as Sir Bobby working with me. But I had Eric Harrison (assistant manager at Wales) who I had a great deal of respect for.
“He was my youth team coach at Manchester United. He had many years of experience and he was a great help to me.
“For Steve, it’s a really good appointment. Sir Bobby will be able to oversee what Steve is doing and maybe have an input when and if he feels it is necessary.”