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Sunday 22 October 2017

'I'm enjoying the job here' - Martin O'Neill rules out Leicester return

Vienna , Austria - 12 November 2016; Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill during the FIFA World Cup Group D Qualifier match between Austria and Republic of Ireland at the Ernst Happel Stadium in Vienna, Austria. (Photo By Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)
Vienna , Austria - 12 November 2016; Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill during the FIFA World Cup Group D Qualifier match between Austria and Republic of Ireland at the Ernst Happel Stadium in Vienna, Austria. (Photo By Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Jack O'Toole

Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill has ruled out a return to Leicester City in the wake of Claudio Ranieri's dismissal as Foxes boss on Thursday.

Ranieri was sacked by Leicester last week just 10 months after guiding the club to an unlikely Premier League title last season.

O'Neill is one of the managers that have been linked with succeeding the Italian at the club but the Ireland boss denied such reports, insisting that his focus remains on guiding Ireland to the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

"I wouldn't be going," O'Neill said on BBC Radio 5 Live. "I'm enjoying the job here at this moment and there is a big, big game ahead [against Wales] and quite some difficult matches coming ahead.

"If somebody was trying to do two jobs at same time there would be problems if you didn't get results on both sides."

O'Neill signed a two-year contract extension with the FAI last year that will see him and assistant manager Roy Keane stay with the Irish national team until the end of the 2018 World Cup.

The 64-year-old hailed Ranieri's Premier League run last season as a 'phenomenal achievement', but questioned the Leicester players in their handling of criticism this season with the club sitting just two points from bottom with 13 games to play.

"Leicester City won the Premier League last season by quite a number of points," he said.

"You're talking about Manchester United, Manchester City, Arsenal, Liverpool, Chelsea, Tottenham unable to catch a side that won the Premier League.

"It's a phenomenal achievement, it won't be done again in Premier League history and the players took credit for that and Ranieri dropped into background.

"Only two months ago I voted for him as FIFA manager of year and he has that right to do it [keep them up]. There's pressure on, I know teams have to win matches. I know how important financially the Premier League is, Leicester aren't the only team losing matches.

"The owners have the ultimate say but I think this was combination of things.

"Some players went to the owner to talk about whatever they were talking about. Why should players go to owner, even in this day and age?

"If things are not going well, you sort it out in the dressing room.

"The players took an awful lot of credit last year, rightly so, they did the playing and this game's still about players.

"Somewhere along the way if you have to take criticism, you have to look inwards as a player."

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