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At home with... Eamon Dunphy
In the wake of Steve Staunton’s sacking as Ireland manager, Eamon Dunphy welcomes Craig Fitzsimons into his Ranelagh home and offers some characteristically forthright views on the state of Irish football.
Craig Fitzsimons, 13 Nov 2007
Home, for this nation’s pre-eminent sporting pundit, is a stunningly impressive, recently-restored old terraced Georgian house in Ranelagh. It’s quite a sight from the outside, and equally splendid within. Immediately to the right of the imposing hall is Eamon’s living room, which doubles as an office. It’s here that the ex-Millwall playmaker, social commentator and inveterate controversialist cranks out his work (in longhand!).
While by no means unkempt, the room has a pleasantly lived-in quality, is thick with cigarette smoke, and is awash with sporting literature, newspaper sports supplements, and books of every description. You name it, it’s here: Kingsley Amis, Piers Morgan, Patrick Kavanagh, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Daire Whelan’s Who Stole Our Game? (a requiem for Irish domestic football), W.H. Auden, the obligatory Oxford English Dictionary and – yes, folks! – Olaf Tyaransen’s Palace of Wisdom. Eamon is one of the judging panel for the Sports Book of the Year award, a gig which – for all its obvious appeal – also obliges him to trawl through such mind-numbing pabulum as Eddie Jordan’s autobiography, surely a fate worse than marriage or death. But hey, someone’s got to do it. His current reading is a tome entitled Fateful Choices: The Decisions That Changed The World, a look at the more far-reaching and ill-fated decisions in human history, which curiously omits to mention the FAI’s recruitment of Steve Staunton as national team manager.
On the week that’s in it, Eamon’s still lamenting the catastrophic saga of the Republic’s descent into football hell, and seems utterly bereft of hope that the FAI will be able to effect any significant improvement.
“It’s anybody’s guess," he says. "You wouldn’t know what they’ll do. I wouldn’t have any confidence in them at all. Their first thought will be, 'What PR package can we fob the public off with?' They have no track record of doing the right thing. Their last three appointments have all been wrong appointments, so I wouldn’t hold my breath that they’ll get it right this time. What they want is someone who’ll wash with the public, who’s cheap and will basically be a yes man. If he fits those criteria, they’ll be happy to appoint him. Nothing to do with whether he can organise a team, has good ideas tactically, can get the most out of his players. Their priority is to save a few quid. If you look at the last 30 years, we had one manager who did an OK job – Jack Charlton, and I’d say he was a relative failure taking into account the talent at his disposal. And the three managers after him weren’t very good at all. And even Charlton was a mistake – they didn’t want him, they were after Bob Paisley, but they couldn’t fix the vote properly. Jack got three votes out of 18 on the first ballot. It’s not very inspiring. I’m afraid there’s no cause to be optimistic.”