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No white smoke expected on new Republic manager until middle of next week

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The latest deadline to announce a Republic of Ireland manager is next Wednesday, or perhaps Thursday. Uncertainty still reigns in Abbotstown.

Friday was a busy day. It was looking increasingly like John O’Shea could be unveiled next week, before Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s name appeared and disappeared in the space of a few hours in the afternoon.

Solskjaer was reportedly in discussions with the FAI back in January but, similar to several other candidates, including England under-21 manager Lee Carsley and Bayern Munich assistant coach Anthony Barry, the Ireland job does not appeal to him.

Now, seemingly, O’Shea’s late run to succeed Stephen Kenny after a 143-day search is running out of steam.

The length of the recruitment process has heaped pressure on the FAI recruiters, chief executive Jonathan Hill and director of football Marc Canham, to deliver an acceptable “head coach” for the board to ratify.

A surge of money placed on Solskjaer on Friday suggested that he could be appointed, with his former Manchester United team-mate O’Shea as an assistant coach.

By Friday evening some bookmakers had slashed the Norwegian former striker’s odds to 17/20. But, like the media, the bookies have been inaccurate on several occasions during this protracted process, with Carsley the runaway favourite in two separate periods since November.

Solskjaer has been unemployed since his three years at Manchester United ended in November 2021. The 51-year-old had two stints at Molde FK and 30 games in charge of Cardiff City in 2013, when his team lost 16 times.

O’Shea will speak to the media on Tuesday evening at the Aviva Stadium as an ambassador of the Uefa Europa League trophy’s promotional tour, when he will be inundated with questions that only Canham and Hill can answer.

The FAI are keen not to link O’Shea’s long-slated appearance in Dublin to the announcement of their new Ireland manager 24 or 48 hours later.

The two executives are expected to hold a press conference on Wednesday or Thursday.

Alongside Carsley and Barry, former Irish coach and player Chris Hughton, Willy Sagnol, Chris Coleman and Greece manager Gus Poyet have been connected to the vacancy.

Apparently, following Canham’s “robust” and “confidential” recruitment process, none of the initial shortlist of candidates have chosen to sign on.

This prompted Canham to appoint O’Shea as the interim manager in March when Ireland drew 0-0 with Belgium and lost 1-0 to Switzerland.

Following the Swiss game, O’Shea revealed that he had not been considered for an interview to replace Kenny due to his lack of managerial experience.

“If I could be manager of Ireland in the morning, I would make it happen,” O’Shea said. “My instinct would be that I’m more than ready and capable to be a manager.”

In 2023 O’Shea, who won 118 caps for his country, worked as an Irish coach, effectively the number three below Kenny and his primary assistant Keith Andrews.

The 42-year-old also spent three years as an assistant to Ireland under-21s manager Jim Crawford before being promoted to the senior squad. He previously spent time at Stoke City and Birmingham City, alongside his former United team-mate Wayne Rooney.

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