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McCarthy to meet FAI as quit speculation mounts

© Reuters 2002

By Kevin Smith
DUBLIN, Nov 5 (Reuters) - Beleaguered Ireland manager Mick McCarthy was set to meet Irish soccer officials on Tuesday as speculation mounted that his six-and-a-half year tenure could be at an end.

A Football Association of Ireland (FAI) spokesman confirmed that talks were scheduled for Tuesday evening but refused to comment further.

"I can't say any more. Nothing is certain," he said.

Irish newspapers said settlement of a payout for McCarthy, who still has 12 months of his 500,000 euros a year contract to run, was all that stood in the way of his departure after a turbulent few months for the former Millwall manager.

Under the headline "Showdown Time for Mick", the Irish Star said the 43-year-old was set for a 100,000 euro settlement, but added there was still work to be done on a deal.

McCarthy, 43, who took over from Jack Charlton in 1996, has struggled to shake off the controversy resulting from his expulsion of Roy Keane from this year's World Cup, a high-profile bust-up that dominated headlines across the globe.

Manchester United captain Keane, a hero to Irish fans, swore never to play for Ireland again while McCarthy was in charge.

Back-to-back Euro 2004 qualifying defeats by Russia (4-2) and Switzerland (2-1), and being strongly linked with premier league club Sunderland after Peter Reid's sacking have further damaged McCarthy's standing in soccer-mad Ireland.

A shaken McCarthy ran a gauntlet of abuse from angry fans at Dublin's Lansdowne Road last month after his team's loss to Switzerland, and was subsequently savaged in the Irish media.

"The key moment was when Mick admitted after the Swiss game that his situation was affecting the players. No one will stand in his way if and when he tells us he wants to go," the Irish Mirror quoted a senior FAI official as saying.

Speculation about a successor has already begun, centring on former Welsh international John Toshack, believed to be a favoured candidate of some FAI officials. Toshack, backed by bookmakers for the job, has extensive managerial experience, particularly in Spain.
(C) Reuters Limited 2002.

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