Former Irish international David O’Leary has today been installed as manager of United Arab Emirates side Al-Ahli thereby ending a four year period out of the game since his contract at Aston Villa was terminated by mutual consent with club owner Doug Ellis.
Despite leading Leeds United to the brink of domestic and European glory in his first role as a club manager, O’Leary has struggled to convince potential employers of his credentials since leaving Villa in June 2006.
The London born 52 year-old has remained in the thoughts of media and bookmakers alike during his time out of the game however, frequently being linked with vacated managerial spots. Most recently, O’Leary had been linked with Hull City only for the position to be filled by Nigel Pearson in late June.
Based in Dubai, Al-Ahli have clearly decided to make a big push for success in the coming season having also secured the signing of former World Player of the Year, Fabio Cannavaro. As hosts and 2008-2009 UAE Champions, the club took part in last year’s FIFA World Club Championship held in Dubai but featured in only one game losing their opening encounter to Auckland City.
They ended the 2009-2010 season in 8th place, a position deemed unsatisfactory by demanding owners who have gone through seven managers in the past five years. O’Leary has signed a three-year contract.