There were two interesting reports in Saturday’s Irish Times about Steve Staunton’s impending dismissal as manager of the Irish soccer team. Mary Hannigan reported (subscription required) on the Robbie Keane’s appearance on the Late, Late Show the night before. The team captain used his appearance as an opportunity to blame “sections of the press for turning the supporters against the team since the appointment of Steve Staunton as manager.”

Keane’s appearance on the Late, Late Show is available on YouTube at the moment.

On the show Keane pointed out the pressures that football managers and teams face from the media. These opinions were echoed in another editorial in the Irish Times also as Keith Duggan outlined (subscription required) why “the sacking of Staunton will remain as an embarrassing example of how small and harsh and impatient and deluded the general attitude has become in the national desire to be perceived as winners, as players on the main stage.

Whatever your opinion of Staunton’s managerial credentials, the people that really come out of this whole debacle with egg on their face are the FAI and John Delaney. The handling of Staunton’s appointment right through to his dismissal has been abysmal from a media perspective.

Prior to Steve Stanton’s appointment I happened to meet an FAI PR representative who was rather excited about the then unknown appointment. He professed that this time the appointment would be kept a secret right up until the announcement. How wrong he turned out to be. As it happened, the FAI’s decision to give Staunton the job was widely reported in the press before they revealed their selection. The appointment proved to be so farcical that by the time John Delaney and co got round to making the announcement even the dogs on the street knew about it.

John Delaney’s media performance will be held up as an example of why you should prepare for any media interview as his promise that the FAI would appoint a “world class” manager were widely derided when Staunton, whose only prior managerial experience was that as assistant coach at Walsall, was unveiled. Those words would go on to haunt Delaney up until last week when he publicly distanced himself from his “world class” manager.

Not that the FAI would do themselves many favours in the meantime. Bobby Robson, who was appointed in a mentor role to Staunton, would continuously be wheeled out to media to face down criticism about the team’s performance. Every time the FAI decided to do this, Staunton’s authority was further undermined in the eyes of the press.

Yes, Robbie Keane is right that the media were harsh on the team and the manager, but the FAI deserve the brunt of the criticism. It is widely expected that Staunton will be dismissed tomorrow. Again it is public knowledge thanks to Delaney’s comments following the match. RTE reported that “rather than give Staunton his public support, Delaney instead appeared to attempt to wriggle free of the blame that has been attached to him for appointing a boss with no previous managerial experience. Delaney said, ‘It was very clear that three people were involved when Steve was appointed. It was a sub-committee of the FAI of three people who made the appointment of the management team.” Instead of doing the honourable thing and admitting his mistake, Delaney decided to abandon ship.

I didn’t think much of Steve Staunton’s appointment, but he deserves his reported 750,000 euro compensation for the stress that he has endured and the tatters that his managerial career lies in.

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3 Responses to “Steve Staunton – Trial by media and/or a shambolic PR performance by the FAI”  

  1. 1 Paddy

    “Trail” by media?

    If I need a PR agency, I won’t come running to you!

  2. 2 Piaras

    Thanks for spotting the typo

  3. 3 Piaras

    Also Paddy, judging by the FAI’s press release announcing the new manager’s appointment yesterday, they would appointment me given that they misspelt his name throughout it 😛

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Piaras Kelly
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