A miserable World Cup campaign has left the Republic needing a new manager to lift gloom enveloping a bickering squad
Noel King came, he presided over one defeat and one victory, and then he left. Never to be allowed in the Aviva Stadium dugouts again.
King was given the role of overseeing the final two matches of the Republic of Ireland's horrible World Cup qualifying campaign, following the sacking of Giovanni Trapattoni, with the understanding that he would not have any chance of being given the role on a permanent basis. John Delaney, the FAI chief executive, publicly denounced his chances less than a fortnight ago.
The importance of an Ireland game can usually be gauged by the attention given to RTE's team of pundits. The more focus on them, the less important the game; the Irish need something to talk about, after all. Newspaper comment pieces on the TV coverage have become almost as popular as the reaction to the game itself.
So given that the Kazakhstan game was never going to present too much to write home about, there was always going to be heightened attention on what Eamon Dunphy, John Giles and Richie Sadlier (in place of Liam Brady for Tuesday's game) made of a campaign that, arguably, was Ireland's worst since the mid-1980s.
For the most part before and during last Friday's Germany game, King, who will return to his role as the national under-21 manager, cast the figure of a giggly young supporter who had won a raffle to manage the team for a week. "Delighted to have this opportunity," and "We will go out and enjoy it," were two of his sedate comments in the buildup. But, following some typically controversial broadsides from Dunphy, in particular, King finally loosened his tongue.
What sparked him off was Dunphy's claim that his tactics against Germany made Trapattoni "look like [Pep] Guardiola". Unsurprisingly, a month earlier Dunphy leveled similarly harsh criticisms at Trapattoni.
It goes without saying that the Italian would not take the bait but the same could not be said for King. His response, after the defeat in Cologne, was that the panel was "antiquated" and in the aftermath of the 3-1 Kazakhstan win he cut loose again, portraying the figure of a man lacking the requisite media training to deal with such an interrogation. To be fair, his reaction was understandable when you consider he forged his career in a much smaller domestic circle and his biggest jobs prior to this were as under-21 manager and women's team coach.
Still, it was not all bad. Initially among the players there was a refreshing sense of positivity. In many ways, a weight had been lifted off their shoulders. Several spoke of how impressed they were by King's approach in Germany, though one must wonder how much of that was because communication on the training ground and in the dressing room was not an issue for the first time in five years.
Stephen Kelly, the most placating of footballers, had fallen out with Trapattoni and his assistant Marco Tardelli before boarding a flight to the Faroe Islands last autumn. On Friday, he spoke of everybody "buying into" King's plan and, despite suffering the most conclusive of defeats in Cologne, accentuated more positives than negatives.
Anthony Stokes and Darron Gibson, both jettisoned from the squad under Trapattoni, echoed similar sentiments upon their recalls, and although Stokes, employed as a lone striker in Germany, lacked composure in front of goal, he iterated his "delight" at returning to the squad. Stokes once said he was "too tired" to play international football under Trapattoni. In Germany he covered more ground than any Irish player.
Come the conclusion of Tuesday's game, Shane Long and James McClean, who has made more headlines for his antics on social media than his efforts on the pitch, vented on Twitter, with Long saying King was "a cowboy" and McClean, disappointed at not having a more prominent role, repeating the same before adding: "Have to laugh at people whos quick to stick their opinions,, it has been a long 10 days so what, someone tell me wheres the wrong in that [sic]".
In essence, King's 10-day tenure ended in much the same way as did many games at the end of Trapattoni's reign, with players declaring their unhappiness.
It is clear that Ireland require someone who can, in the short-term, instil a mental belief which has been lacking for some time to unite the current crop of limited players, though the most important job will be behind the scenes where if Ireland are to achieve the goals they have set, a root and branch review of the game from top to tail needs to be implemented.
Ruud Dokter, appointed as the association's high performance director in the summer, has been given the task of finding the new manager along with Ray Houghton, who was part of the committee that deliberated for more than 100 days before Trapattoni was appointed in 2008.
Then, Dunphy claimed he shed a tear such was the impressive nature of the appointment. And although Denis O'Brien, the businessmen who sponsored Trapattoni's hefty wages, has promised to contribute towards paying the new man at the helm, a globally renowned appointment is unlikely.
Initially, Martin O'Neill had been the overwhelming favourite to take over and despite being keen to manage Ireland, he is understood to possess an ambition of returning to the Premier League and ridding the wrongs which characterised his final days at Sunderland. Others in the running include Roy Keane and Mick McCarthy, who guided the team to the 2002 World Cup.
A provisional date of 1 November has been set to appoint a permanent successor to Trapattoni. With friendlies in the pipeline later next month the cash-strapped association is eager to have a successor in place to get people through the turnstiles but it has form for not sticking stringently to deadlines. How ever long it takes, the new man will have a tough job winning over not only the fans and media but the players too.