Genuine football man Noel King deserves Ireland chance

The 57-year-old is steeped in the tradition of Irish football, playing and managing in the domestic league as well as being heavily involved at international level
When Noel King was appointed Republic of Ireland Under-21 manager in the summer of 2010, the Dubliner had a difficult challenge ahead of him, taking the helm of a team that had gone seven competitive games without a win under predecessor Don Givens. Three years on, King finds himself inheriting another battle-scarred group as he takes over as senior manager of the national side, albeit on a temporary basis until the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) finds someone with the necessary pedigree to lead the Boys in Green to Euro 2016.


Ahead of his first game as U21 boss, King declared that his chapter would mark a new era for the players who had been unsuccessful under Givens, telling the Irish Times of his intentions. "I'm starting fresh and every player is starting fresh," King explained. "What happened in the past happened in the past."

The Republic of Ireland will be hoping for a fresh start under King, especially after the way in which the Boys in Green slumped to successive defeats to leave no hope of World Cup qualification. Players who were marginalised under Trapattoni will be welcomed back into the fold, allowing players like Darron Gibson and Stephen Ireland to end their self-imposed international exiles.

King's tactical style should also mark a shift from Trapattoni's conservative approach. A midfielder who spent time at Dundalk, Shamrock Rovers, Bohemians, as well as a spell in France with Valenciennes, King has been involved in Irish domestic football for 40 years, but has adapted with the times, both on the pitch and off it. As Ireland U21 boss, King tends to utilise a 4-5-1 formation which could switch to a 4-3-3 in attack, often playing a lone frontman with attacking-minded wide players. Many of King's competitive squads featured just three named strikers, while the style of play often altered from a slow passing game which built from the back, to a more direct wide style when necessary.

The 57-year-old has nurtured some of Ireland's crop of young players as well as a number of promising players. His first game in charge of the U21s back in 2010 was a 5-0 win over Estonia, with Anthony Stokes, James McCarthy, and Seamus Coleman all hitting the net. King has also had Jeff Hendrick, Shane Duffy, Conor Clifford, Aaron McCarey, Stephen Henderson, and Robbie Brady also join up with the senior squad after impressing at underage level.

A two-time League of Ireland winner with Shamrock Rovers, King took Derry City to the First Division title as player-manager in 1986/1987, and went on to guide Limerick to the League of Ireland Cup in 1992. He has been around the Irish set-up since the Jack Charlton era, having worked as a coach at Italia 90, and had his greatest success as manager of Ireland Women, finishing runner-up in the 2010 U17 European Championship.

King faces Germany in his first game in charge of the men's side, and will be hoping that it doesn't mirror his last game at the helm of the U21s, where Ireland suffered a 4-0 loss to an exciting young German side, many of which had Bundesliga experience. Overall, King has done well as U21 boss, and is deserving of a chance - albeit a temporary one - to manage the senior side. If he impresses during October's auditions against Germany and Kazakhstan, maybe the FAI's kingmakers might not have to look so far for their new man.