Why Gus Poyet Would be a Better Bet Than Neil Lennon for the Ireland Job

6 Min Read
Why Gus Poyet Would be a Better Bet Than Neil Lennon for the Ireland Job

Gus Poyet has emerged as one of the contenders for the vacant Republic of Ireland job after the departure of Stephen Kenny following an appalling European Championship qualifying campaign.

After collecting only six points in eight games in a challenging group featuring France, Netherlands, Greece and Gibraltar, Kenny was sacked.

The Irish hot seat has been vacant since, with England under-21 international team manager Lee Carsley widely considered the front-runner for the role.

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Carsley emerged on the radar of the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) after his exploits with England, leading the Young Lions to their first European U21 Championship triumph in nearly four decades last summer.

The 49-year-old was Ireland’s first choice managerial appointment, with some Irish betting sites suspending their market on who will be the next manager at the end of last week after a flurry of bets.

He had been available at odds of around 4/1, particularly after reports emerged that he had met with the FAI and discussed the role. However, Carsley has poured cold water on speculation linking him with the Irish job.

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After Carsley decided against taking up the senior role at Ireland, Poyet and former Celtic manager Neil Lennon emerged as possible alternatives to the England U21 gaffer.

While Lennon has more experience at winning silverware owing to his time at Celtic, there is a faded look to his CV and an unwavering notion that Poyet could prove a more promising option than the 52-year-old.

Poyet has a decent record with Greece, recording 1.84 points per match from 19 games, and his side are in the March play-offs for the 2024 Euros after finishing third in their group.

He previously threw his hat in the ring when asked if he was interested in replacing Kenny after his Greece team beat Ireland back in October, effectively sealing the fate of his former colleague.

Lennon Would Come with Too Much Baggage

Lennon is a resilient character, a quality essential for the Ireland job. But he would also come with too much baggage, which is the polar opposite of what is needed in the dugout.

Known for his abrasiveness and confrontational style, Lennon’s suitability for the national team during a challenging period is questionable.

Plenty of Celtic supporters criticised his negative approach during his second tenure at the club. Many fans highlighted a dramatic improvement in the potency of the team when Brendan Rodgers was brought in to replace his Northern Ireland compatriot.

In 2016, Lennon was dismissed by a struggling Bolton Wanderers side at a time when the club were rooted to the bottom of the Championship rankings after returning just one win in 18 games.

After a 1-1 draw against Brentford, it was clear that things weren’t going smoothly, and the club decided to move on from the Northern Irishman.

His last job in management was with Omonia Nicosia in Cyprus in 2022. He lasted just eight months, recording 1.48 points per match in 29 games, although he did manage to land the Cypriot Cup title in his short stint.

Lennon is undoubtedly one of the most decorated Irish managers around, having won five Scottish Premiership titles, four Scottish Cups and one Scottish League Cup trophy.

However, he would have to prove himself all over again with Ireland, and it is hard to have any confidence that he’s the right fit for the national team moving forward.

Ireland’s Promising Youngsters Could Flourish Under Poyet

Brighton & Hove Albion teenage sensation Evan Ferguson would undoubtedly be the flagbearer of the potential Poyet era after his exploits in the Premier League.

The 19-year-old bagged two goals and an assist in six games during the qualifiers. He has also returned six goals in 19 Premier League appearances this season and has been touted as one of the finest young strikers of his generation.

Ferguson’s compatriot Andrew Moran, who is on loan at Championship club Blackburn Rovers, is another player who could make his mark in the national team with Poyet at the helm.

Moran has been one of the standout performers for Blackburn during a difficult season and that experience should stand him in good stead in the future.

Former Manchester City goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu is would also be instrumental to Poyet’s plans. The 21-year-old has already established himself as a crucial component of the national team set-up, with 20 caps to his name.

Along with several other emerging Irish talents, this promising generation of players would have a much better chance of flourishing at international level under Poyet.