After five years at the helm, the veteran manager of Ireland, Giovanni Trapattoni was finally relieved of his duties after the horror show against Austria in the World Cup qualifying match in Vienna on Tuesday.
There had been a few rumblings of discontent with Trapattoni even before Tuesday night`s match, but the FIA do tend to keep faith with their managers until the bitter end and this was no different. Irish followers will still remember his tenure favourably, as they have improved a lot under his stewardship and have been unlucky on occasions not to qualify for major events, like the infamous Thierry Henry handball that stole their rightful entry to the last World Cup, even though the whole world could see it!
However, all good things come to an end, and Trapattoni was philosophical about his departure, although press releases that he had waived part of his compensation fee are a bit wide of the mark.
It now remains for the Irish FIA to come up with their new manager. Fortunately, their next meaningful competitive matches are next November in the Euro Qualifiers, so whoever takes over has plenty of time to get acquainted with the squad. With that in mind, we should consider who the hopefuls are and who is really in the FIA`s sights.
Of the leading names, we can probably discount some of the more populist ones, like Roy Keane, Brian McDermott and Chris Hughton. It is also likely that this time around, the FIA will want to appoint an Irish manager, if at all possible.
With that in mind, the two top contenders are Martin O`Neill and Mick McCarthy. Mick McCarthy, of course, has managed the Ireland team previously and was famously embroiled in a spat with then captain, Roy Keane, which saw the player leave and go home. That split opinion and it was not long after that McCarthy was dismissed. It is possible, but therefore unlikely, that they will look at him again for the job.
That leaves the frontrunner and popular choice, Martin O`Neill. He has the best credentials for the job and would have been appointed years ago, but he was always in charge of a Premier League club at the time and therefore turned down the opportunity.
O`Neill is the 2/1 on favourite for the job, with Mick McCarthy next a long way behind, and as he is now free and has had a decent break away from the game, now is the perfect time for him to fulfil his destiny.