TheSpice Girls are selling out arenas, Boyzone appearing on the Late Late show, there’s as many cranes as taxis in the capital and Mick McCarthy is the new Republic of Ireland manager.
You’d be forgiven for thinking you woke up in the 90s this morning, but I assure you it is still 2018.
Although, it does seem that John Delaney and the rest of the FAI are feeling as nostalgic as the rest of us.
Mick McCarthy will once again take charge of the national side, where he will lead us to glory at Euro 2020, ride off into the sunset and pass the reins to Dundalk manager Stephen Kenny, who will, at this point, have revolutionized the national youth system. Or so John Delaney would have you believe.
It was a two-horse race for the newly vacant managerial post since the departure of Martin O’Neill and Roy Keane earlier in the week.
A young progressive Irish manager who, using gegenpressing and an attractive style of football, has won three titles in the past four years in Dundalk.
Or a manager from a different era, whose last full season saw him finish in 16th in the Championship with Ipswich Town, and who is more likely to think gegenpressing is a brand of washing machine than football tactics.
The reality is the FAI chiefs trusted neither man enough to really give them the job. Each appointment had its own pitfalls and instead of deciding one way or the other, the FAI hedged their bets for fear of alienating supporters.
Delaney and co feared a backlash from a section of supporters who claim the Dundalk manager has nowhere near the required experience to lead the national team.
Another section of supporters claims former Ireland manager McCarthy should stay just that, former Ireland manager, he’s an ageing manager with his best days in the game behind him.
McCarthy’s appointment ensures another two years of stone age tactics from the national team.
Arguably, his greatest success as a manger did come with Ireland, in the 2002 World Cup finals campaign, but, he was forced to resign, less than 6 months later, after a poor start to the Euro 2004 qualifying campaign.
When he resigned, Shay Given, Damien Duff, Robbie Keane, Kevin Kilbane, and Richard Dunne were all 26 years-old or younger.
Except maybe one, none of the current squad is anywhere close to being that calibre of player.
How do we expect a manager who was tactically inept in 2002 – to succeed in 2018 – with a set of players far inferior to those at his disposal 16 years ago?
It’s beyond belief.
On top of this Stephen Kenny has more or less been told, we don’t quite trust you to look after the adults, so you can mind the children.
Don’t get me wrong I think the Dundalk managers appointment as U-21 boss, with oversight of everything from U-15 upwards, is a great move from the FAI.
But not at the expense of him taking over the senior team.
I agree that appointing Kenny as manager would have been somewhat of a risk, but It would have been the right kind of risk.
It would have shown a bit of progressive thinking and ambition from the FAI, it would have shown that they realized a real building process was needed to revitalize the national team set-up.
Instead, they bring in McCarthy, a man who wasn’t up to job 16 years ago – and the fans will once again be the ones who suffer.