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FAI apologises as manager not expected until September

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FAI Director of Football Marc Canham has apologised to Republic of Ireland supporters for the delay in appointing a new manager to the men’s senior team as he revealed that he does not now expect an appointment until September.

The FAI are hoping to reappoint John O’Shea as interim manager, after he oversaw a friendly draw with Belgium and defeat to Switzerland, but Canham admitted that they have yet to reach an agreement with the former Manchester United and Ireland defender to take charge for June’s two international friendlies.

The process of replacing Stephen Kenny, who departed in November, had already been a prolonged one with Canham saying last month that an appointment was “very close” but that the identity of the new manager wouldn’t be confirmed until early April due to “existing contractual obligations”.

With that self-imposed deadline having now passed and the FAI still seemingly far away from securing a replacement, unrest among supporters is growing.

England Under-21 manager Lee Carsley was believed to have been the FAI’s main target but he ruled himself out of the running. Neil Lennon, Chris Coleman, Chris Hughton and former Greece boss Gus Poyet have all be linked at various times without a conclusion.

Speaking to the FAI’s own in-house social media channel, Canham said: “The update today is that the process is not concluded and will remain on-going.

“We recognise and realise that is not necessarily the news that people wanted to hear today and they may be disappointed to hear. We’re absolutely committed and determined to find the best person for our men’s national team and for Irish football and that will continue to be our aim.”

Ireland will take on Hungary and Portugal in June and Canham confirmed that there will no appointment in time for those games and that the new target is for September when the Nations League campaign begins against England.

“Realistically, we’re looking towards the UEFA Nations League with our first game against England in September and that’s what we’re aiming to do,” he said.

“We recognise that the timelines and deadlines that we’ve set have created a sense of expectation, and potentially confusion, for everyone.

“In hindsight, we would maybe not set those deadlines if we were to do this again and just commit to find the best person and to take as long as that should take, and that’s our aim.

“We recognise and apologise for that but we are also confident that ultimately we believe this process will result in us finding the best person for the job.”

The FAI have no agreement with John O’Shea for the next two games

While the FAI hope that O’Shea will continue in his role as interim manager for the matches in June, Canham revealed that an agreement has yet to be reached for the Waterford man to continue in that job.

“In the two June friendlies the expectation is that we’ll have an interim head coach as we continue the search for a permanent head coach in September,” he said.

“We would like that to be John O’Shea. We’re very pleased with what he did in the March friendlies and we’re talking to him at the moment in hopes to be able to confirm that as soon as possible.”

Canham believes that the criteria the FAI have set for the job is contributing to the delay in finding a suitable candidate, insisting that he is looking for someone with experience with management at club and international level.

He also pointed to contractual obligations among candidates and a competitive market for managers as reasons for the prolonged search.

“[There are] a number of reasons, in terms of why that’s the case, one is around the criteria that we’re looking for.

“In terms of the type of coach, the head coach will be clearly one who comes in and improves the team and makes us competitive. We want a coach that has a good mix of club and international experience, and we are very clear on the vision we want to achieve.

“The second point is around conditions, we spoke to a number of coaches who are available but also with contractual arrangements that were already existing, and the third point is around the competitiveness of the market.

“We are looking for the right coach who is the right fit with the right timing for that person and for us. All those reasons just meant we were not able to conclude process at this point and we’ll continue to search to try and find the best person for the job.”

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