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Chris Coleman emerges as favourite for Republic of Ireland manager job

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The Football Association of Ireland (FAI) begin a hectic week on and off the pitch with Chris Coleman emerging as the favourite to be appointed Republic of Ireland manager.

Lee Carsley, the main target throughout a protracted recruitment process, remains committed to his role with the England under-21s. There was some concern about the association’s initial salary offer of €560,000 to swap allegiance but talks continued.

If negotiations between FAI director of football Marc Canham and Carsley conclude unsuccessfully, Coleman’s big tournament experience appears to trump the other contenders.

Either way, the 14-strong FAI board, chaired by Tony Keohane, must meet to rubber stamp an appointment with their immediate focus being Thursday’s appearance before the Oireachtas Public Accounts Committee (PAC).

That could change in the next few hours.

Former Celtic manager Neil Lennon has been told of his unsuccessful application by Canham, according to the Irish Daily Mirror, and ex-Ireland manager Brian Kerr stated on Virgin Media last week that Chris Hughton and possibly Carsley are out of the running.

“I believe that Lee Carsley won’t be taking the job,” said Kerr. “I suspect one of the reasons why Lee wouldn’t take it, from what I know of him, he is a very loyal and principled fellah. I believe he wouldn’t break the current deal he has with the English FA at the moment. That’s one of the reasons he has a high reputation around the game.”

Coleman’s questionable record as a club manager is offset by the 53-year-old guiding a Wales team, spearheaded by Gareth Bale, to the semi-final of Euro 2016. His late father Paddy Coleman hails from East Wall in Dublin, while Ireland international Ronan Curtis is his godson.

Canham reportedly conducted interviews for back room staff in Abbotstown last week. Kit Symons was Coleman’s assistant coach for Wales, and two unsuccessful spells at Sunderland and in China. Symons briefly reunited with Coleman at Greek club Astromitous in 2022.

If appointed, the Swansea native’s overall career cannot be glossed over. Six of eight managerial jobs lasted two years or less while he never breached the 30-game mark at Real Sociedad, Greek side AE Larisa, Sunderland or Hebei FC in China. The Welsh national job, which earned him an OBE, was ended by James McClean’s winner in Cardiff to send Ireland into the 2018 World Cup play-offs, where they lost 5-1 to Denmark.

The FAI, when asked for comment, said there was no update on the vacant managerial position. Canham is set to brief the media at the Aviva Stadium on Tuesday about his pathways plan for Irish football. He spent last week trying to sell his vision to grassroots at “workshops” in Dublin, Cork, Galway and Letterkenny.

The FAI executive, led by Jonathan Hill, will appear before PAC on Thursday to explain how their €33.7 million Covid grant was distributed and to further explain payments Hill erroneously received and subsequently repaid to the association last year.

All the above threatens to overshadow the first women’s international window of the year, as Ireland face Italy this Friday in Florence and Wales at Tallaght Stadium on Tuesday week. The men open 2024 with Belgium and Switzerland coming to Dublin for friendlies on March 23rd and 26th.

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