The Obvious (and Overlooked) Candidate

Hervé Renard (Credit:

Neil Lennon, Chris Coleman, Lee Carsley, Roy Keane, Steve Bruce, Anthony Barry, Gus Poyet, John O’Shea, Willy Sagnol, Paul Clement, Chris Hughton. This is the long list of men linked to the Ireland Managers job.

Last week, FAI Director of Football Marc Canham apologised to Ireland fans for the delay in appointing a new Manager. Canham explained that he recognised that he should not have made manager appointment deadlines public. Then he set a new deadline for the appointment of a new manager, for September of this year, before Ireland kick-off their Nations League campaign against England in Dublin.

The FAI “hope” to have John O’Shea in place as interim Manager for the upcoming friendlies against Hungary and Portugal in June.
Stephen Kenny departed the role in November, and here we are in April with no “white smoke” from Abbotstown. Last month, Canham said that an appointment was “very close” but the identity of the new manager would not be confirmed until early April due to existing contractual obligations. Yet here we are. Well into April and no new Manager announcement. Couple that with the sudden departure of FAI CEO Jonathan Hill, and the patience of Ireland fans is wearing very thin.

FAI Director of Football Marc Canham and former CEO Jonathan Hill (Credit:

We need a new Manager. That is for sure. But there is one name that has been conspicuous by his absence from all this chatter. That man is Hervé Renard.

Renard is currently in charge of the French women’s national team and he has had an interesting coaching career, as Manager of the Zambian national team he won the 2012 African Cup of Nations. He also won the same competition with the Ivory Coast (becoming the first coach to win the competition with two different countries). Renard has also managed Angola, Morocco (at the World Cup in 2018) and Saudi Arabia in 2022 where he famously led them to an outstanding 2-1 win over eventual World Cup winners Argentina. Interestingly he had a brief managerial spell in England – in charge of Cambridge United in 2004.

Renard celebrating Saudi Arabia’s famous victory over Argentina in World Cup 2022 (Credit:

Born on 30th September 1968 in Aix-les-Bains, Auvergne- Rhône-Alpes, Renard played for French clubs AS Cannes, Stade de Vallauris and SC Draguignan. Renard retired at the age of 29. Offered the chance to do some coaching at SC Draguignan, he also took a job as a cleaner. He would get up in the middle of the night and clean a block of flats and do general cleaning duties until lunchtime, before taking training later in the afternoon.

“I woke up at 2:30 in the morning, finished around noon and then left at 5pm for training at Draguignan,” Renard told BBC Sport in 2019. We trained and I’d return at around 9pm to eat and then go to bed at 11pm. That was my rhythm of life for eight years.”

While Renard completed his coaching badges during that time, it was exhausting working as a cleaner and he credited this with turning him into the manager that he is today. “Being a footballer is an exceptional life, we have a privileged life and we must not forget that.”

Under the tutelage of his mentor Claude Le Roy, Renard has a comprehensive understanding of the tactical aspects of football. An adaptable and well-travelled coach, Renard’s career has spanned the continents of Europe, Africa, and Asia, demonstrating his ability to adapt to different footballing cultures and environments. He is truly a master of the international scene.

Enjoying the 2015 African Cup of Nations triumph with Ivory Coast (Credit:

Renard is known for his ability to transform teams by focusing on team unity. Upon taking his job with the French women’s team, when he first met the squad, he used the phrase “Only team spirit can make you realise your dreams”.

Renard inherited a fractured French squad. Full of infighting and rancour, France’s longtime Captain Wendie Renard (no relation to Hervé) said that she would not play in the World Cup to preserve her mental health. Two other staff followed suit, saying they would not return unless there was a change in the leadership of the team.

Renard (then coaching Saudi Arabia) acted on impulse. He contacted the French Football Federation and said that he wanted to be considered for the coaching role. A role he secured, while taking a significant pay cut. The Saudi job, Renard himself explained with a smile, paid at least “20 times” what he would earn coaching France’s women.

In charge of the French Women’s National Team (Credit:

On his current French team Renard says, “The atmosphere is fantastic now, I’m not trying to convince you – this is the truth. During the past maybe they didn’t realise exactly what their level was. They have to understand there is no team better than them”.

Beneath Renard’s cool exterior lies an intense and charismatic figure who inspires teams to punch above their weight. Something an Ireland team currently ranked 60th in the world, could do with.

Well-travelled, a good work ethic, humble, ambitious, a winner, and grounded. Renard is a “thinking outside of the box” option. If the FAI want an exciting and affordable candidate that has international experience, then they should look no further.


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