Staunton helped by Robson in dream ticket for Republic

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The Independent Football

Steve Staunton is to be appointed the manager of the Republic of Ireland with Sir Bobby Robson employed as a consultant to work alongside the 36-year-old.

The appointments are set to be confirmed by the Football Association of Ireland at the beginning of next week with Staunton offered a four-year contract which will take him through the qualifying campaigns for the next European Championships and World Cup.

Robson has met with Staunton and has yet to finalise his part of the deal but is understood to be enthusiastic about the role he has been offered. Officially he will be an adviser to the FAI on the senior international team but, in reality, the former England manager, who is 72 in February, will act directly as mentor for Staunton.

The former Liverpool and Aston Villa defender is currently the assistant to Paul Merson at Walsall and although he is highly rated by the FAI they realise he lacks managerial experience.

Before Christmas, Merson said he would not stand in Staunton's way if he got the chance to manage the side. "I'd back him," Merson said. "Everybody who plays football would love to manage their country one day, so, if it came along, of course I'd let him go."

Staunton, who is Ireland's most capped player with 102 appearances, has been selected after the FAI realised their pursuit of Martin O'Neill was proving fruitless. The former Celtic manager is taking a break from football to care for his wife, who has cancer. Also on the list of proposed names was Terry Venables while the Irish had discussed what would happen if Sir Alex Ferguson left Manchester United.

Staunton, who took over as Ireland's captain after Roy Keane walked out of the 2002 World Cup, succeeds Brian Kerr whose contract was not renewed after failing to reach this year's finals in Germany. The retirement of Keane has also helped Staunton's candidacy as the two men, despite sharing the same adviser, Michael Kennedy, are not on good terms after the events in Saipan.

It is also felt that Staunton fits the criteria of a young, track-suited manager - in the mould of Manchester City's Stuart Pearce - who can raise morale in the Irish squad, which was affected by Kerr's regime, be a strong character and remain popular with the public. His first game in charge will be the friendly against Sweden in Dublin on 1 March.

The fact that, after talks in Manchester over the weekend, he is being offered a long-term deal also shows the faith the FAI have in Staunton - commonly known as "Stan". He is close to the organisation's chief executive, John Delaney, who has led the search for a new manager.

Staunton, who played in three World Cups for Ireland, will be popular among the players, many of whom played alongside him in recent campaigns. Indeed, Robbie Keane intimated last week that an announcement on the new manager was imminent.

Robson's appointment is also likely to prove reasonably popular in Ireland where they appreciate his vast experience, having led England to a World Cup semi-finals, and enthusiasm. Indeed, it is hoped he can groom Staunton in the way they believe Jose Mourinho developed under Robson at Barcelona.

Robson was sacked by Newcastle in August 2004, after five years at the club, and has made no secret of his desire to return to management. It was discussed whether he should be offered the manager's role with Staunton as his assistant. However, it is felt that the job now being offered may be ideal, although the the boundaries of his involvement will have to be clearly set by the FAI and Staunton.

Staunton is also likely to bring in former Irish international Alan Kelly as goalkeeping coach to replace Packie Bonner. The FAI have not commented but it is felt they are close to agreeing deals with Staunton and Robson.

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