Martin O'Neill is facing two of the biggest games of his career with the Republic of Ireland. Having slipped up in Dublin to Serbia, qualification and a playoff spot for the World Cup in Russia is now out of their hands. Two wins would secure second place but a very tricky away trip to Cardiff looks likely to be a winner takes second spot match - will failure to make the playoffs trigger the end of O’Neill’s run at the helm of his country? What Are The Odds looks ahead to who may take the Irish top job next.
Current assistant boss and former Ireland captain is Paddy Power favourite to succeed the much-experienced Martin O’Neill, should he make way after the completion of this World Cup campaign. Odds of 7/4 (2.75) are short enough to make it likely and strong enough to make it relatively profitable too - Keane would be the logical choice and he would likely take the chance after last being in management with Ipswich, departing in 2011.
Shockingly the next most likely frontrunner according the 7/2 (4.50) odds is the former Crystal Palace and England manager Sam Allardyce. Dig a little deeper and it’s not just his wealth of football experience and know-how with Premier League clubs, it’s his relationship to Ireland that could give Allardyce a potential way into the top job in Dublin. Big Sam started his playing career in the League of Ireland with Limerick, as well as managing the club to a Division One title and promotion to the top-tier. Despite not being in Ireland long, he is well received in Limerick and was praised for his style and ease of adaption to a league he had minimal knowledge of.
Brighton’s highly-respected boss Chris Hughton is next in the odds but way back at 10/1 (11.0). The 53-time capped Republic of Ireland international would be a popular choice by the Irish fans, for his style of play and his success rate at clubs, including last season’s promotion for the Seagulls to the Premier League. However, if the job becomes available during the league season it would be hard to see Hughton wanting to walk away from the Premier League side, who have made a decent start to life with a couple of wins.
Mick McCarthy is another well known to the Irish fans, and will be best remembered for guiding the ROI to the 2002 World Cup - while also sending captain Roy Keane home for disrepute. Now with Ipswich Town, McCarthy has been made a strong start this season with the Tractor Boys and the East Anglian side sit in the playoff positions. Odds of 14/1 (15.0) make him a firm outside bet and it would be quite a shock to see it happening.
What about the ultimate wildcard option - odds of 50/1 (51.0) on Harry Redknapp making a return (again) to the dugout and taking on the task of guiding the Irish to a major tournament? After a mixed, short spell with Birmingham would the 70-year old Englishman want one last crack at the big time? The thought of Irish team selections being announced from a rolled down car window rather than a traditional press conference makes him our favourite!