Giovanni Trapattoni's successor as the Republic of Ireland's manager will be expected to lead the nation to the expanded 24-team Euro 2016 finals, and will be charged with the implementation of a more attractive style of football.
The Football Association of Ireland's chief executive, John Delaney, dismissed Trapattoni on Wednesday morning, together with the assistant manager Marco Tardelli and the fitness coach Fausto Rossi, after the 1-0 defeat to Austria in Vienna on Tuesday night. The result followed the 2-1 home loss to Sweden and it meant that Ireland have no realistic chance of qualification for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
Delaney said the decision was difficult and emotional, in light of the work that Trapattoni had done over five and a half years and the friendships that had been formed, but he felt it was essential. It had also felt inevitable, given the statement the FAI released after the Austria game, in which it expressed frustration at the two defeats and said it would give consideration to its next move.
The FAI felt that Trapattoni's position had become untenable; that the players were no longer responding to his methods, which had brought qualified success during his tenure. After the controversial defeat to France at the 2010 World Cup play-off, Trapattoni led Ireland to the Euro 2012 finals – the country's first appearance at a major tournament since 2002.
Delaney stressed that Wednesday was purely about handling Trapattoni's departure in as dignified a manner as possible but thoughts will turn towards the Italian's successor. Delaney said the FAI's board would meet "within the next week" to begin what he promised would be a thorough process while, with the opening Euro 2016 qualifying ties not scheduled to begin until September next year, he suggested that his board had time on their side.
There is no appetite, though, for a drawn-out process – similar to that which preceded Trapattoni's appointment in 2008 – and, already, Martin O'Neill, who has his supporters within the FAI, has emerged as the favourite. O'Neill has been out of work since his dismissal by Sunderland in March.
Delaney laughed, at first, when it was put to him that Roy Keane might be considered – the pair have history and do not get on – but he did namecheck him when he trotted through the possible candidates.
"Names like Mick McCarthy, Brian McDermott, Chris Hughton, Roy Keane, all those names will come into the pot … Martin O'Neill, of course … all those names," Delaney said. "I know Mick has done a very good job for Ireland in the past, there's no doubt about that, and he's done a very good job in England as well.
"Obviously, 24 teams go into the Euros in France, which also increases our chances. This has been a tough campaign, this has been an emotional day, we're not going to the World Cup in Brazil next year but the work begins from today to get to the Euros in 2016. There are good young players, who want to get to a major tournament.
"There will be plenty of interest [in the job] because, first of all, as I said earlier, 24 teams go to the European Championships. That's a big change so the chances of qualifying are a lot higher. We have a good crop of young players and the monetary incentive towards the role has been good."
Trapattoni was often criticised for his pragmatic style, which prioritised results over "the show". He would argue that Ireland lacked the required fantasy players but Delaney suggested that greater levels of entertainment, which would help the push to sell tickets to Aviva Stadium matches, ought to be within the manager's gift.
"During the World Cup in 2002 … you go back to the Mick McCarthy era … there was a great style of football played," Delaney said. "We played Spain off the park in the last 16 of the World Cup. We do have footballers who can play, there's no question about that. Is it about getting a manager who will let them play? That's something we have to look at."
Trapattoni had said that his contract ran until next June, which raised the notion of a pay-off but Delaney said that "wasn't true", with the suggestion being that the manager's deal expired upon Ireland's World Cup exit. "In terms of monies, it [the pay-off] wouldn't be something substantial," Delaney said.