Football

5 Classic Ireland Managerial Candidates: Where Are They Now?

5 Classic Ireland Managerial Candidates: Where Are They Now?

Five managers whose names can seamlessly lead the headline, "...in line for Ireland job."

Chris Hughton

HughtonNorwich

Likely still considered a hot managerial prospect by many ardent Ireland fans and pundits alike, 56 year old Brighton manager Chris Hughton will likely carry his 'one for the future' tag for the next forty years.

Hughton started all three games for Ireland at Euro '88, and went on to make 53 caps for the country of his mother's birth.

The former Norwich City and Newcastle manager was one of the names in the fray to replace Giovanni Trapatoni in 2013, which likely would have rendered the clamour for Wes Hoolihan's inclusions redundant, considering the Dubliner's performances under Hughton in his time at Carrow Road. To think the Andy Reid Brigade might have reformed under different circumstances sends a chill down your spine.

Hughton's Brighton currently languish in 20th postion in the Championship table, five points clear of the relegation zone with a superior goal difference.

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Jacques Santini

Santini

Technical director from 1997 to 2000, Jacques Santini is widely regarded as one of the three masterminds behind Lyon's early 2000s development into a superpower of French football. Santini took the managerial reigns at the turn of the millenium, and a season later led 'Les Gones' to their first ever championnat- the first of seven consecutive league titles that were to come.

Given Lyon's come-from-nowhere success, Santini was elevated to national team manager ahead of the 2002 World Cup, this after the departure of Aimé Jacquet the same year. His two year reign in charge of France was an unmitigated disaster, with the reigning world and European champions bombing out of the 2002 World Cup in the group stages without scoring a goal, and succumbing to Otto Rehagel's eventual champions Greece at the second round stage of Euro 2004.

Santini's utterly forgettable, unsuccessful spell at Spurs was to be to date, his penultimate job in football. He went on to take the reigns at Auxerre in 2005, but was sacked less than a year later following an all too familiar fallout with Auxerre president Guy Roux. Prior to his spell at Stade de l'Abbé-Deschamps, Santini had been muted as a possible replacement for Brian Kerr. The Frenchmen's name again entered the fray in October 2007 when Steve Staunton was sacked following Ireland's infamously abysmal Euro 2008 qualification campaign.

Nine years later, Santini has established himself on the poker circuit in France, known for rocking up to semi-professional tournaments without much practice and leaving with the biggest take. When his name was mentioned in the office, we assumed Santini would be the type of personality you'd stumble across while watching Canal+ Sport in a danky hotel bar in Europe. We were, of course, correct. Santini has provided analysis on Canal since his departure from Auxerre in 2006.

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Santini turned down the head jobs at Hearts in 2008 and Ligue 2 Créteil in 2013. Santini is apparently hedging his bets on a return to international management after Euro 2016. Please don't leave us, Martin.

 

Terry Venables

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A bastion of the perennially linked, 'El Tel' was, like Santini, widely muted as a replacement for both Brian Kerr and Stan. Venables, though, was open in his interest in the role, telling reporters in 2005:

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“But if something came up that was special, and something like Ireland which is international, it might be interesting.”

Venables' Irish connections were likely forged during a fruitful two-game spell at St. Patrick's Athletic in 1976.

The former Barcelona and England boss was heavily endorsed by 'the panel' circa 2007, as soon as Steve Staunton's role began to seem untenable. Irish players, too, were involved in the half-campaign to beckon Venables back across the Irish Sea.

Following Staunton's sacking in October, Kevin Doyle was vociferous in his admiration for Venables, telling the Examiner:

“Terry Venables has experience internationally which is what they are looking for in terms of someone who has been there and done it. Steve Staunton was criticised because he didn’t have managerial experience so Terry Venables fits the bill.

“He got England through to the semi-finals of the European Championships where they were only beaten on penalties so he was very close to being in a massive final. He has done well at all the clubs he has been at so it would be exciting if he did get the job.”

The FAI would ultimately look further abroad in their bid to drag Ireland to South Africa in 2010.

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As for Venables? Well, he took a similar approach.

The ex-Three Lions coach now runs a hotel in rural Alicante called La Escondida, with his wife Yvette. Venables was also appointed technical advisor at non-league Wembley FC in 2012, and retains the role to this day. El Tel for England in 2016.

Joe Kinnear

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Dublin-born Joe Kinnear may be famous to younger football fans for his bizarre, almost unintelligible outburst during a Talksport interview in 2013. But for all the ridicule the former Irish international has garnered - most of it justifiable - in recent years, it's worth remembering that the 68 year old made his name in management during a seven year spell in charge of Wimbledon in the mid-nineties when he was adjudged to be a miracle-worker.

Kinnear kept the Dons in the Premier League each season - winning LMA Manager of the Year following an incredible 4th place finish in 1993/1994. The traditional stallworth of Ireland managerial candidates, Kinnear reportedly turned down the opportunity to replace Jack Charlton as Ireland boss in 1996, and continued to exceed budget-dependent expectations at then homeless Wimbledon with an 8th place finish and two cup semi-finals in 1997.

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Kinnear left Wimbledon in 1999 following heart trouble, and the Dons were relegated the following year.

The long-time Ireland candidate has seemingly gone into hiding since that infamous Talksport rant- we like to think he's still pursuing Pierre-Emerick Aubamayeng on behalf of Newcastle.

He was last seen at Pride Park in September 2014, alongside Cardiff City president and former Wimbledon owner Sam Hammam.

Philippe Omar Trousier

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Very much the mack-daddy of speculative Ireland managers, Philippe Trousier holds a special place in Irish hearts as the nearly man of the 2000s. The French renegade asserted his name in the origins of football hipsterism with numerous managerial posts across Africa in the late '90s, before steering Japan out of their group at their home World Cup in 2002. Following Mick McCarthy's sacking in 2003, Troussier was the name at everybody's fingertips on primitive internet forums across the nation. Some say he still is.

Brian Kerr's hiring put pay to the dream, and Troussier was appointed manager of Marseille the following season. Anarchy at the Stade Veledrome soon followed, with 1998 World Cup-winning left back Bixente Lizarazu an outspoken critic of the Parisien's managerial style. Troussier was sacked after just one season in charge, sparking rumours that the Troussier to Ireland prophecy was set to be fulfilled following Brian Kerr's departure.

Following his sacking in 2005, Troussier told The Irish Times:

"It's an honour to be linked with the job. The financial conditions would also not be a problem.

If I want to get money, I know where I have to go. To accept this kind of job is not for the money."

When viewing those quotes in hindsight, it is perhaps unsurprising that the FAI were able to attract only our very own Steve Staunton, who was hired in Troussier's stead.

The saga continued with a rather bizarre twist after Staunton's sacking, as Troussier was once more linked with Ireland, but under his new name - 'Omar' - having converted to Islam following his move to manage Morocco in 2005.

Troussier again flirted with the notion in the press:

"Right now I am open to suggestions. I'm available. I have a lot of managerial experience behind me, more than 200 matches at the highest level and managed at two World Cups."

Incredibly, his name change did little to dupe the FAI, and Troussier was overlooked for the position for the third time in five years. Keyboards were smashed. Hearts were broken. Bets were lost.

Seemingly adversely affected by his perennial rejection by the FAI, Troussier took charge of Japanese third division outfit FC Ryukyu and was sacked in 2010 after two years in charge. Now a devout Muslim, the 'White Witchdoctor' has undergone a managerial tour of both the Tunisian CLP-1 and the Chinese Super League. He currently calls the shots at Chinese outfit Hangzhou Greentown, having spent last year in charge of Sfaxien, known across Tunisia as 'the Juventus of the Arabs.'

We won't give up on you, Philippe.

Gavan Casey
Article written by
Former handwriting champion. Was violently bitten by a pelican at Fota Wildlife Park in 2001.

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