Stephen Staunton – Irish Soccer Manager
In January 2006 Stephen Staunton became the surprise choice as manager of the Republic of Ireland football team following the decision of the FAI not to renew the contract of former Irish manager Brian Kerr.
Staunton had been an outstanding servant to Irish football at one time holding the record for appearances for the Republic of Ireland. He amassed 102 caps for Ireland, scoring eight goals along the way.
Most of his international career was spent playing in defence however he also played in midfield on occasions.
Steve Staunton Football Background
Steve Staunton was born in Drogheda, County Louth on 19th January 1969. He began his football career playing for League of Ireland club Dundalk FC. He signed for Liverpool FC in 1986 however he spent most of his English football career playing for Aston Villa.
Staunton played for Villa 281 times scoring 16 goals in the process.
Quite unusually Steve Staunton returned to Liverpool in 1998 and then returned to Aston Villa 2000. In 2003 he transferred on a free transfer to Coventry City for two seasons making a total of 75 appearances.
His final club was Walsall and although he only ten times for the club he stayed with Walsall in the position of assistant coach.
He retained this role until he was appointed by the FAI to the position of Republic of Ireland manager.
Stephen Staunton – Republic of Ireland International
On the 5th of June 2002 Stephen Staunton became the first Irish footballer to reach the milestone of 100 international caps. He made his debut way back in October 1988 in a 4-0 victory over Tunisia in a friendly match at Lansdowne Road (now Aviva Stadium). Staunton’s international career spanned the majority of the terms of Irish managers Jack Charlton and Mick McCarthy. His football career coincided with the most successful period ever in Irish soccer and he has the unique distinction amongst Irish footballers of appearing in three World Cup finals. Stephen Staunton was handed the captaincy at the 2002 World Cup in Japan and South Korea after Roy Keane was sent home following the Saipan Incident. His last, and 102nd, appearance for the Republic of Ireland was in SuWon, Japan in the last 16 Irish match against Spain in the 2002 World Cup.
Stephen Staunton as Republic of Ireland Manager
It was a major surprise when the 36 year old Stephen Staunton was appointed as the Irish football manager. While no one doubted his commitment and passion to the Irish cause his lack of management experience was of concern. To address this the FAI also appointed former English manager Bobby Robin as Staunton’s International Football Consultant.
FAI Chief Executive said at the time “He is highly respected, a natural motivator and I am confident he will make an excellent manager … His (Bobby Robson) knowledge, experienced advice will be a valuable asset to Steven.”
Despite Delaney’s confidence and a promising start to his international football management career it would not be long before Staunton’s lack of managerial experience would be cruelly exposed.
Stephen Staunton’s First Match as Irish Manager
In his first match in charge Stephen Staunton’s Ireland team met Sweden in friendly encounter in Dublin. Staunton made the perfect start with an impressive 3-0 victory over the Swedes. This was followed by two home defeats in friendlies against Chile and Holland – the latter was a 0-4 drubbing with the Irish totally outclassed. Staunton’s first competitive match was a 1-0 loss away to Germany in the 2008 Euro qualifiers however disaster was just over one month away. In a truly shocking display the Irish team was dismantled in Nicosia by Cyprus. The final score of 5-2 was humiliating for all involved but the complete lack of organisation on the pitch was a complete embarrassment. In the previous five meetings Ireland had beaten Cyprus every time in an aggregate score 18-0.
Stephen Staunton’s Reign as Irish Manager Ends
The early murmurings about Stephen Staunton’s inexperience and inability to manage the Irish national team now became a clamour. An improved performance in a 1-1 draw with the Czech Republic in Dublin and a 5-0 win over San Marino gave Staunton some temporary respite. The knives were out after the next match in the away return with San Marino. A last gasp winner from Stephen Ireland deep into injury time could not disguise yet another inept performance by Staunton’s Ireland.
Further poor performances and poor results culminated in yet another injury time goal to salvage a home draw with Cyprus at Croke Park. Enough was enough and the FAI and John Delaney had to finally admit the error of appointing Stephen Staunton as Republic of Ireland manager. On the 24th of October the FAI terminated Staunton’s contract.
Clearly the FAI made a huge error in appointing the unproven Staunton as Irish manager but Staunton must accept some of the blame. He let his passion and heart overrule his head but he should have realised that it was too big a step to take at that stage in his fledgling coaching career.
Stephen Staunton’ Record as Irish Manager
It is sad that such a great and passionate servant to Irish football as a player, has left such a dismal legacy from his time managing Ireland. Other Irish mangers may have worse statistical records but none have so many inept Irish team performances on their CV. A great player for Ireland but not a good manager.
Republic of Ireland Football Managers – Irish Manager’s Records
Mick Meagan – Liam Tuohy – Sean Thomas – John Giles – Alan Kelly Snr – Eoin Hand – Jack Charlton
Irish Football Players
John Aldridge – George Best – Packie Bonner – Liam Brady – Shay Brennan – Noel Cantwell – Johnny Carey