In the absence of the announcement of an official short list, speculation has intensified over the choice of who will succeed Mick McCarthy as the Ireland soccer manager. With most commentators remaining within the confines of six candidates — Brian Kerr, Bryan Robson, Kevin Moran, Philippe Troussier, Peter Reid and Kenny Dalglish — the sole piece of confirmed news to date is that Kerr, the FAI’s youth team manager, has already been interviewed for the job.
One many who is clearly not under consideration is former Irish international Joe Kinnear. Kinnear, now manager of Luton Town, said he refused to be interviewed.
“I don’t do interviews,” he said. “I think I have done enough in my life to show what I am capable of.”
Back in 1986 Kinnear was reported to have turned down an offer from the FAI, who then opted for Jack Charlton.
Kerr has emerged as the popular choice. However, his lack of experience of management at the top level could count against him. Meanwhile, the former Manchester United and England captain, Robson, has claimed on his website that he has been included in a final short list of three.
“My role was to provide information which would allow people to make a very good decision for the future of the Irish team,” Hamilton said. “I made recommendations and provided advice and information. I have spoken to people with good experience in international management, club management and people with wonderful coaching ability. The number of people I have spoken to is irrelevant. Perhaps it is not as big as people think or has been suggested, but each of the people I have had talks with has terrific qualities. I have tried to cover every eventuality, but this is not my appointment, it’s the FAI’s call.”
Last weekend, the Irish media differed in their interpretations of the sketchy detail to date with one paper suggesting Robson, another making Reid and Kerr as favorites, while the controversial journalist and broadcaster, Eamon Dunphy, has championed Kenny Dalglish’s candidature.
Significantly, Hamilton, the headhunter the FAI hired to come up with a list for interview, spoke to Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson about who he would recommend for the job. It would also be a fair bet to speculate that Ferguson discussed the role his captain Roy Keane might, or might not, play in Ireland’s future.
Currently on the margins since his well-publicized clash with McCarthy at the World Cup last year, Keane has said he is waiting to see what happens over the next couple of weeks before he makes up his mind about a possible return. It is certain that Keane will be a factor during the interviews.
Hamilton, along with FAI treasurer John Delaney, president Milo Corcoran and the acting general secretary, Kevin Fahy, will carry out the interviews this week. A former manager, two accountants and school teacher will make the most crucial decision in Irish soccer since McCarthy sent Keane home.