Noel King takes charge of Ireland for the first time in Germany on Friday knowing full well it will also be his penultimate game as boss – as the FAI set Martin O’Neill a deadline to decide if he wants to succeed Giovanni Trapattoni or not.
Ireland under-21 team boss King will be the man in the dugout for the final World Cup qualifiers away to Germany and home to Kazakhstan.
He has already been told by the FAI that he has no chance of landing the job, but King is determined to enjoy the experience as the association awaits word from O’Neill.
Mick McCarthy is the favorite to land the job for a second time if O’Neill says no by the November 1 deadline, the date the Irish Sun says the FAI wants a decision by from the former Celtic and Aston Villa boss O’Neill.
FAI sources have confirmed that they want a name on the manager’s job when they meet at the start of November.
Head-hunters Ray Houghton and Ruud Dokter have already met two interested candidates amid talk that Guus Hiddink has joined fellow Dutchman Dick Advocaat in the hunt for the job.
Dokter is currently working with King and the Irish senior squad ahead of Friday night’s qualifier in Cologne and won’t get back to his recruitment work until next week.
By the end of the month the FAI hope to know if O’Neill wants the job or wants to get back to the Premier League amid talk of managerial changes at Fulham or Norwich City.
McCarthy is the current back-up option if O’Neill withdraws from the race, with the FAI prepared to pay compensation to his current employers at Ipswich Town.
Former Manchester United coaches Carlos Quiroz and Rene Meulensteen have been ruled out of the running to replace Trapattoni, but former Scotland and Rangers boss Alex McLeish says he is keen on the job.
Meulensteen, who worked for United as youth, reserve and then first team coach, is set to join Martin Jol as assistant at Fulham. Current Iran coach Quiroz is to remain in his job until after the World Cup finals at least.
Interim boss King goes into the German game knowing he won’t be considered for the post but is still prepared to take the game to the group leaders who need just two points from their remaining two games to guarantee qualification for Brazil next summer.
Asked if he was upset by the FAI decision not to consider him, King said, “No, you know that. You all knew that before we started. I’m a realist. And I’m delighted to have this opportunity.
“But you can’t be happy if you don’t perform and you don’t produce performances and results. Then it’s useless.”
King is in determined mood ahead of the German game. “I see this as a huge match for me, a huge match. The German match is huge for my professional pride,” he said.
“This is what I do. I have always had a view about what international managers should and shouldn’t do, what international players should and shouldn’t do, so it’s key, it’s huge for me.
“Just turning up and expecting, ‘It’s okay, Germany can roll over us’ — that wouldn’t be acceptable. I have to live in Ireland after this. That’s my long-term.
“We are not here just to come and have a trip. It’s a football match. Every kid, every adult, they go into a football match to try to win the game. That’s all I know, and that’s my mission, to try to win the game.
“How we go about doing it and against the opposition — it might sound naive, but I am not naive. I understand fully the magnitude of the tie, but the mission is to try to win the game, nothing else.”
Darron Gibson, Andy Reid, Anthony Stokes and Kevin Doyle are all back in the Ireland squad after their problems with Trapattoni.
King will consider all four for Friday’s team. He stressed, “They are not here just to come and have a trip. Everybody who is there is there for a reason, and whether that reason is a full 90 minutes, a half performance, a game against Kazakhstan, a half game against Kazakhstan, a half game against Germany, that will unfold.”
The strange history of the Nazi plans to invade Ireland