Noel King’s time as interim manager after Giovanni Trapattoni’s swift departure as Ireland’s head coach was originally seen as a breath of fresh air by the majority of Irish fans.
The 57-year-old Dubliner is no stranger to the beautiful game, having played for more than two decades in the League of Ireland, managing in it for twelve, and even had a spell at French second division club Valenciennes.
Having managed the Irish women’s international team from 2000-2010 and the Irish U-21s for the last three years, King has more than enough experience to work with the senior players of the national team, having coached a handful of his squad at the U-21 level.
His decision to invite a couple of the Airtricity League’s top players to train with the national team before the Germany game was revitalising and invigorating to see, compared to Trapattoni who continually denied the fact that there is a competitive football league in Ireland.
The easy approach for King to adapt in the last two qualifying fixtures of the campaign was to deploy an attractive, attacking philosophy of play with a ‘nothing to lose’ mentality, which has been called for on numerous occasions by the Irish supporters and also by some sections of the media.
However, this was indeed the easy choice and King opted to take the harder and more courageous route by stamping his own authority on the squad for those two games and no Irish supporter can complain about the two results recorded, regardless of the performance against Kazakhstan in the Aviva.
King’s defiant and belligerent reaction to RTE’s Tony O’Donoghue in the final post-match press interview was met with great interest. Asked about his team selection after the game, he jumped into a histrionic defence of his choices and berated the journalist after walking out of the interview.
His short spell in charge has been a drastic contrast to his Italian predecessor and his outburst illustrated his passion, emotion and patriotism for the country’s football, unfortunately this also showed a certain naïveté about the demands on those involved at the top level of management on the world stage.
Noel King has been and will continue to be an influential character on the Irish football circuit, but he was never going to be chosen to fill the void as the national coach.
John Delaney and the FAI have a tremendously important decision to ponder regarding the appointment of the future manager of Ireland, with Mick McCarthy, Martin O’Neill and Roy Keane all being deemed early frontrunners for the post.