HIBERNIAN manager Pat Fenlon is confident that Martin O’Neill is the man to restore Ireland’s fortunes if, as expected, the former Celtic boss is offered the job.
Giovanni Trapattoni left the post “by mutual consent” earlier this week after five years, and although this World Cup qualifying campaign ended in disappointment, Fenlon believes the Italian did a lot of good during his time in charge,
“Who wouldn’t take Martin O’Neill?” Fenlon said yesterday. “His record, particularly with Celtic, was fantastic, and if we could get someone like him it would be terrific. Ireland managed to attract Trapattoni and to get someone with a managerial record like that was phenomenal. If Ireland can get someone like O’Neill in, then it would be a great piece of business by the FAI.”
Fenlon thinks the expectation levels in Ireland have risen in recent years because of what previous managers have achieved, but he also believes that there is a good pool of youthful talent that the new manager can call on. “It’s a fabulous job, and it’s disappointing the way it ended for Trapattoni.
“In his first four years, he did a real good job and Ireland were robbed in Paris and did not qualify. He got us through to the Euros and then we had a tough group – you couldn’t have hand-picked a harder one. Maybe that was time to leave, after four years. Ireland have done well and qualified for a lot of tournaments and there is a huge expectancy now that we should be doing that on a regular basis. We don’t have a massive pool to choose from, but we have some good players and youngsters and talent coming through.
“It is your country and you want to see them do well and whoever comes in will get backing. We appointed an Italian in Trapattoni and an Englishman in Jack Charlton and he got great backing.
“It’s disappointing that we’re not going to qualify for the World Cup in Brazil next summer. It just needs someone to bring the talent through.”
The Hibs manager added that any Irishman in football would have an interest in taking charge of the team, but insisted that at present he was not thinking beyond life at Easter Road. “Everybody would like to manage their country, but you’ve got to go and prove yourself at this level first,” he said.