John O’Shea takes temporary charge of Republic of Ireland as FAI say new manager will be announced in ‘early April’

Dublin native Paddy McCarthy to assist O’Shea

John O'Shea looking serious
John O'Shea will take charge of Ireland on an interim basis

JOHN O’Shea has described his interim managerial appointment as Republic of Ireland as “an incredible honour” – with the FAI insisting that the post will be filled on a permanent basis in “early April”.

It remains to be seen if O’Shea is deemed a viable candidate to take the job beyond next month’s two home friendly games against Belgium and Switzerland.

The former Manchester United defender is expected to meet the media on Friday in Dublin where that question will be put to him.

Stephen Kenny’s contract was not renewed last November, and it was hoped the FAI would have announced their next senior managerial appointment by now.

Lee Carsley, Neil Lennon, Chris Coleman and Anthony Barry have been all touted for the post that will command a salary of over €500,000 per year.

Footballing Director Marc Canham, one of the key figures tasked with finding a new manager, told reporters earlier this month that the association was “very close” to a decision and that an announcement would be “really soon”.

O’Shea was part of Kenny’s backroom team and is expected to be a member of the next managerial team – but there is a sense that the FAI is struggling to land their preferred candidate now that it has opted for a temporary appointment.

In an interview with The Irish News on Tuesday, former Ireland international Richard Dunne said it was taking the FAI “too long” to find a new manager.

“I don’t think they would have expected it to take them this long,” said Dunne.

“In the longer run, if it means that you hold back a little bit and they get the guy that we really want then you accept not having him for these games. It’s difficult because a lot of it is media-driven, where there are different people linked with it, one day it’s him, the next day it’s him.

“If they have a profile in mind of a type of coach they want to go for, if it is a Lee Carsley or an Anthony Barry, somebody who hasn’t really managed a first team but has been coaching and developing players, if it means having to wait until June until contracts are up or whatever and they get someone like that, brilliant.

“It’s important that we have someone long-term in place.”

With interest appearing to have cooled between Carsley and the FAI, the delay could be related to trying to secure Anthony Barry’s services.

The highly rated coach, who had a spell with Ireland under Kenny before leaving for a role with the Belgium national team in February 2021, is currently with Bayern Munich.

Thomas Tuchel, Bayern’s under-fire manager, will leave the Bundesliga giants at the end of the season which might free up Barry to take the Republic of Ireland post.

O’Shea, who won 118 caps for Ireland and is third on the all-time list of appearances, assisted both Stephen Kenny at senior level and U21 manager Jim Crawford.

The 42-year-old has also had coaching spells with Reading, Stoke City and most recently Birmingham City.

Dublin native Paddy McCarthy, a former U21 Irish international, will be assistant coach to O’Shea for the Belgium and Switzerland games on March 23 and March 26, respectively.

McCarthy currently works for Crystal Palace as an assistant coach having made over 130 appearances for the Eagles during his playing career and has also been caretaker manager twice for the London club.

McCarthy received one senior call-up for a friendly against South Africa in 2009, where he was an unused substitute.

“I’m delighted to return to the senior men’s coaching staff as Interim Head Coach for the two international friendlies against Belgium and Switzerland,” O’Shea said in a prepared statement.

“It will be an incredible honour to lead the side into the March international window. As everyone will know, I’ve always had immense pride representing my country, whether that be during my playing career or very recently, as part of the coaching staff for the men’s senior team and the U21s.

“It’s great that Paddy has agreed to come on board for the two matches and work will begin straight away to prepare for two top-quality fixtures against great opposition in Belgium and Switzerland, in front of our fantastic home support.

“I’ve got great belief in this group of players to win football matches and looking forward to some positive results.”

While welcoming O’Shea back into the fold, Canham said: “We are also pleased to confirm that the process for the appointment of a new Men’s Head Coach is near completion and we are looking forward to announce that appointment in April.

“For now, the focus is on the upcoming matches against Belgium and Switzerland at the Aviva Stadium and supporting John and his team as they prepare for the games.”