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Friday, January 13, 2006
ESPNsoccernet: January 14, 3:36 PM UK
Staunton confirmed as Republic boss

New Republic of Ireland manager Steve Staunton has been told there is no pressure to qualify for the next European Championship finals - at least not until the draw is made.

After failing to reach the finals of Euro 2004 in Portugal, and this summer's World Cup in Germany, Irish football is currently in the middle of a slump.

That resulted in the departure of Brian Kerr as manager in October, and a three-month search that yesterday heralded 'a new era, a new dawn' according to Football Association of Ireland chief executive John Delaney.

Ireland's most-capped player, with 102 appearances to his name, has been appointed on a four-year contract.

Staunton's personal recommendation of Sir Bobby Robson as advisor has led to the former England manager taking up a two-year position as International Football Consultant.

Their brief is to restore pride and passion to the Irish game, with the impression from Delaney that was lost under Kerr.

Crucially, an improvement in results and performances are also high on the agenda as Ireland have slipped to 24th in the world rankings, compared to 12th a year ago.

Even more disappointingly, they are in the pot of fourth seeds for the 2008 European Championship qualifying draw in Montreux in two weeks' time, whereas they were among the first seeds four years ago.

If Staunton could achieve the seemingly impossible at this stage and qualify Ireland for their first European Championship finals since 1988, his appointment would be seen as a masterstroke.

But when asked whether qualification was a necessity for Staunton, Delaney replied: 'We will have to see what the draw is first.'

The implication being if Ireland are given an easier passage then expectations will be raised.

'We haven't said 'get us qualified for 2008' because we don't know the group,' added Delaney to PA Sport.

'The draw is on the 27th of January and we will see what the group brings because unfortunately we are fourth seeds.

'That's a disappointment because before the last European draw four years ago we were number one seeds, and then two years ago for the World Cup draw we were second seeds.

'It means the group is going to be more difficult. That said, let's see who we get, wait until then and we will take it from there and give our views at that stage.'

Delaney believes the timing of the appointment, at least six months prior to the opening game of the qualifying campaign, gives Staunton enough time to impose himself and his ideas on the squad.

'With our first competitive game not until August or September, he has time on his side to work with the players before then,' insisted Delaney.

'I know people are questioning his lack of managerial inexperience, but we are confident he will be a success.

'There are many other recent examples of former players who made a good job of international management - Mark Hughes with Wales, the Holland job with Marco van Basten and Jurgen Klinsmann with Germany.

'I am confident he is the man to do this job.'

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