It’s the story that shows no sign of ending, and for one candidate in particular it’s all starting to become a pain in the butt – as Mick McCarthy himself all but described it after another day at the office in his day job on Saturday.
The Ipswich Town manager spent his pre-match and post-match conference discussing his prospective future as Ireland manager as his players took a point off Bolton with a 1-1 Championship draw at the Reebok Stadium in Lancashire.
Asked on Thursday if there was “any change in the Ireland situation,” McCarthy quipped, “No it’s still in the same place. It’s just across from Liverpool and Manchester.
“If you’re going to go and visit it then you can fly from Stansted or Southend on Aer Lingus or Ryanair.”
The Bolton game was played on Saturday, not long after two national newspapers in Ireland suggested that McCarthy was set to meet FAI headhunters Ruud Dokter and Ray Houghton on Monday at a secret Dublin location.
Pressed again on his chances of succeeding Giovanni Trapattoni – despite anything more concrete from the FAI than an informal approach to his Irish-based agent – McCarthy decided to make a laugh of the whole thing as he carries on waiting for the chance to discuss his interest – or lack thereof – in a job he has always said he wants to go back to one day.
Asked after the Bolton game if there had indeed been any contact from the FAI, McCarthy joked, “Yeah, they came and stayed with me last night at the hotel. All of them came and stayed with me and we had a good meeting. Did I b******s. No, nothing.
“When am I supposed to be going? Monday? Well will somebody book me a ******* flight then?!
“I’ll tell you where I am on Monday. I’m at a signing session at David Lloyd in Ipswich at 10:30, I’ll be at the training ground before that at quarter to seven, me and TC (Terry Connor, his assistant) will be watching the game back ahead of Friday’s home game against Barnsley. You’re free to come and have a chat with me at quarter to seven, please feel free.
“Then we’ve got a game against the Nike Academy and I’ll be involved in that. And then I’ll be flying to Ireland!”
Kevin Kilbane, now working as a BBC pundit, can’t understand why the FAI have yet to make their move for McCarthy.
“I wouldn’t say they’re messing him around but if they want Mick they should go and do it now. It must be so difficult for Mick. He’s preparing his team every week at Ipswich and he’s getting asked about the job,” Kilbane said.
“It puts people in difficult positions with the length of process that’s in place. I would have preferred a manager to be in place for the next round of friendlies. But that doesn’t look likely, does it?
“Mick is the prime example of that. He’s going to continue to get asked questions until a decision is made. I understand they’ve probably got to cover all bases, but you always want it done quickly and if there is a target you go for your target.”
McCarthy’s former Ireland and Celtic teammate Packie Bonner and his Irish stalwart Kilbane have both backed his return to the job as speculation mounts that Martin O’Neill will return to the Premier League.
Speaking in Dublin, Bonner said, “Mick is good with players. He has that international experience plus what he’s done since.
“Whoever gets it has to hit the ground running. I’d hate to see it going until next year. I’ve loved to have seen it happen two games ago. Use the example of what happened with Gordon Strachan and Scotland.”
Asked about the Giovanni Trapattoni era, Bonner told a Dublin press conference, “Eccentric would be the word but knowledgeable. But there were language problems and there’s a lot of credibility about getting someone in who can relate to the Irish culture.”