Soccer

The key questions behind Vera Pauw’s Republic of Ireland departure

Vera Pauw’s reign as Republic of Ireland boss is over after the Football Association of Ireland decided not to renew her contract (Brian Lawless/PA)
Vera Pauw’s reign as Republic of Ireland boss is over after the Football Association of Ireland decided not to renew her contract (Brian Lawless/PA) Vera Pauw’s reign as Republic of Ireland boss is over after the Football Association of Ireland decided not to renew her contract (Brian Lawless/PA)

The Republic of Ireland are looking for a new manager after opting not to renew Vera Pauw’s contract despite seeing her guide her team to the World Cup finals for the first time.

Pauw’s departure brings an end to a four-year reign which has seen the nation’s women scale new heights, but the Dutchwoman’s tenure has not been without controversy.

Here, the PA news agency takes a look Pauw’s time at the Irish helm.

What is Pauw’s background?

A former defender who was capped 89 times by the Netherlands, Pauw’s coaching career includes spells with Scotland, the Dutch, who she led to the semi-finals of the 2009 European Championships, Russia and South Africa, as well as National Women’s Soccer League side Houston Dash in the United States. The 60-year-old was appointed to succeed Colin Bell as Ireland boss in September 2019.

How did Ireland fare under her charge?

Republic of Ireland’s Amber Barrett (left) celebrates after scoring the decisive goal in a World Cup play-off victory over Scotland
Republic of Ireland’s Amber Barrett (left) celebrates after scoring the decisive goal in a World Cup play-off victory over Scotland Republic of Ireland’s Amber Barrett (left) celebrates after scoring the decisive goal in a World Cup play-off victory over Scotland (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Having finished third in Group I after a 3-1 home defeat by Germany, Ireland missed out on qualification for the Euro 2022 finals. Defeat by eventual Group A winners Sweden in their opening World Cup qualifier did not deter the Republic, who went on to finish second and then, courtesy of Amber Barrett’s lone strike, beat Scotland in a play-off to book their ticket to Australia and New Zealand. Ultimately they did not progress after narrow defeats by co-hosts Australia and Olympic champions Canada, as well as a draw with Nigeria.

What place does she hold in Irish football history?

Pauw is one of only three coaches, along with Jack Charlton and Mick McCarthy, to lead Ireland to the finals of a senior World Cup. Along with Giovanni Trapattoni and Martin O’Neill, who took the men’s team to Euro 2012 and 2016 respectively, they are the only five people to send out a senior Irish team at the finals of any major tournament.

Where did it go wrong?

Republic of Ireland skipper Katie McCabe found herself at odds with manager Vera Pauw
Republic of Ireland skipper Katie McCabe found herself at odds with manager Vera Pauw Republic of Ireland skipper Katie McCabe found herself at odds with manager Vera Pauw (Isabel Infantes/PA)

Rumours of disquiet within the camp have grown in recent months and several players notably declined to support their manager when asked during World Cup press conferences amid speculation that a conservative approach on the pitch was unpopular in the dressing room. Suspicions of a fracture grew amid a public spat between Pauw and skipper Katie McCabe after the Arsenal winger appeared to call for a substitution during the Nigeria game. The manager later offered a “she’s not the coach” riposte; McCabe responded on social media with a zipped mouth emoji. Pauw had gone into the tournament against the backdrop of a renewed focus on allegations – which she strongly denies – of bullying and belittling behaviour during her time in Houston, for which she was sanctioned by the NSWL earlier this year.

How have supporters reacted to the news?

Supporters during a public reception in O’Connell Street, Dublin to welcome home the Republic of Ireland Women’s team from the World Cup
Supporters during a public reception in O’Connell Street, Dublin to welcome home the Republic of Ireland Women’s team from the World Cup Supporters during a public reception in O’Connell Street, Dublin to welcome home the Republic of Ireland Women’s team from the World Cup (Damien Eagers/PA)

Not well. Many fans have taken to social media to claim Pauw has been treated poorly after what she has achieved with Ireland, many pointing out that the men’s team has not reached the World Cup finals since 2002.

Who could replace her?

Former Manchester United manager Casey Stoney (centre) has been touted as a potential replacement for Vera Pauw
Former Manchester United manager Casey Stoney (centre) has been touted as a potential replacement for Vera Pauw Former Manchester United manager Casey Stoney (right) has been touted as a potential replacement for Vera Pauw (Tim Markland/PA)

The FAI’s head of women and girls’ football Eileen Gleeson has been placed in interim charge for next month’s Nations League openers against Northern Ireland and Hungary and could be considered for a longer-term role. Like Gleeson, Tom Elmes is highly regarded in the women’s game in Ireland, but as a member of Pauw’s coaching team, may suffer if the FAI decide to make a clean break. Liverpool boss Matt Beard has been touted as a potential replacement, as has former England captain and Manchester United manager Casey Stoney, currently in charge at San Diego Wave.