A few weeks ago everything in the world of Irish international football seemed to be falling into place with Giovanni Trappattoni given the boot and Martin O’Neill lined-up as a shoe-in replacement for the top job.
O’Neill even came with the blessing of everyone’s favourite outspoken ITV pundit Roy Keane, who took time out of his busy schedule of providing outspoken punditry to given the one-time Leicester City gaffer his Don Corleone-like seal of approval.
“I know a little bit about Martin O’Neill and I think Martin would be a very, very good choice,” he told the Irish Times during the latest in a series of glare-filled interviews.
“I also think the FAI have done the right thing in stepping back, taking their time and seeing what is out there. But I think Martin would be a very good guy for the job, I have to say. But that is just my opinion obviously.”
You would have thought that would have been enough to see O’Neill into the job.
After all, Keane’s negative assessment of Ireland following their 4-0 mauling against Spain at Euro 2012 sparked a nationwide panic over the Republic’s inability to qualify from a group containing the previous two World Cup-winning nations.
But rather than taking the former Manchester United hard man’s endorsement to heart, the powers that be at the FAI are simply “stepping back” having announced that they would name the new manager before Christmas.
Chief executive John Delaney revealed the news earlier this week, citing the high level of interest in the position as one of the chief reasons behind the move.
Noel King will be in caretaker charge for the upcoming dead-rubber qualifiers against Germany and Kazakhstan but beyond that, the field is wide open.
Martin O’Neill remains the favourite to be named Republic of Ireland gaffer at 4/6 but with no news likely any time soon, the Northern Irishman could be tempted to look elsewhere, with a variety of Premier League bosses already under threat.
Instead, the FAI may turn their attention to East Anglia and the respective managers of Norwich City and Ipswich Town.
Chris Hughton is a 16/1 shot to depart Carrow Road for the top Ireland job and given the poor start enjoyed by the Canaries thus far, he could find himself available for consideration pretty soon.
Meanwhile, Mick McCarthy could opt for a return to the Republic of Ireland role, a position he previously enjoyed success in helping the team to the second round of the 2002 World Cup.
With Ipswich Town yet to find consistency this season and chairman Marcus Evans notoriously trigger happy with his gaffers, odds of 15/8 on a McCarthy return to the Aviva Stadium cannot be ignored.
Keane also remains available at 22/1, though given his busy schedule at ITV and his previous managerial efforts, he remains something of an outsider.