Paul Merson has backed Steve Staunton to be the next Republic of Ireland manager, although he believes that the former Aston Villa star should be handed a six-year contract in order to be a success.
Staunton is expected to be appointed Republic manager today, as Walsall playermanager Merson's mid-season cull continues. Kris Taylor, Daryl Taylor, Joe Broad, Jonny Harkness, Taiwo Aiteno, Matty Fryatt and Julian Bennett have departed either temporarily or permanently in the last month.
Merson would have chosen to keep Staunton, but the lure of managing his country looks too good to ignore for the 37-year-old managerial novice.
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Walsall chief executive Roy Whalley conceded there were no hitches in the negotiations with Football Association of Ireland chief executive John Delaney.
He said: "I met John at the Bescot Stadium this morning and we had a very amicable discussion. We are pleased with the way the FAI conducted their business.
"We've reached an agreement with the FAI, a settlement that was satisfactory to both sides, that will enable them to pursue their interest in Steve."
The FAI are reported to have paid about £60,000 in compensation. "As far as we are concerned, we've now cleared the way for them to appoint Steve," Whalley said. "The door is open and we wish Steve every success for his first venture in management. Hopefully, his time with Walsall has been very useful in introducing him to the coaching side of the business and it will help him in the future.
"When I met him yesterday, I said to him 'exciting times lie ahead', and he agreed with me. After winning over 100 caps for your country, to then become manager I would think is a dream come true for him. He obviously made a great contribution to the Republic of Ireland team as a player and I'm sure he will do the same as manager."
If Staunton's appointment is confirmed, Alan Kelly will be his goalkeeping coach and Aston Villa's Kevin MacDonald is the hot favourite to be appointed as his assistant, but in a part-time capacity that would not necessitate leaving his reserve-team coaching role with Villa.
Merson worked with the Uefa Pro Licence holder during his time at Villa and was suitably impressed. In fact, if it wasn't for personal issues, he says he would have bought MacDonald, who had a spell as player-coach under Kenny Hibbitt, back to the Bescot when he arrived.
"Kevin is a very good coach," Merson said. "When I first took the job at Walsall, he was someone I wanted here but he had already been here and upset everyone, so that was out of the question!" he added with a smile.
"He is good, but I don't know what that level is like as it is a big jump from domestic football."
Meanwhile, Merson, searching for a striker before tomorrow's match against Colchester, has ruled out an immediate bid for Chester's 12-goal striker, Ryan Lowe.
He has also backed the departed Fryatt to be a success at Leicester City. The 19-year-old had scored 14 goals this season before this week's move. Fryatt and Julian Bennett (transferred to Nottingham Forest) were the jewels in Merson's crown.
"I won't be getting any cash for the sale of the two players but I have been able to bring loan players in," he said after adding Mads Timm, Kevin James, Grant Smith and Michael Leary to his squad on a temporary basis.
"If I was going to get all the money, I wouldn't have sold Matty. I knew the situation and it was done to help the club. However, I think Matty will be a success at Leicester. I think it might take him a month or so to adjust but he will score goals."