Thursday 8 December 2016

Call Koeman? I'll call Trump and Hillary first - O'Neill

Published 12/11/2016 | 02:30

O’Neill: In dispute with Koeman. Photo: PA
O’Neill: In dispute with Koeman. Photo: PA

A peace offering? Not quite.

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Martin O'Neill tried to close the book on the tensions between Ireland and Everton yesterday but stopped short of saying that he would immediately be phoning Ronald Koeman to smooth things over.

He joked that putting in a call to Donald Trump would be higher up his list of priorities before adding, on a more serious note, that the ball might well be in Koeman's court after his initial suggestion that Ireland had massively overloaded James McCarthy by involving him in last month's double header with Georgia and Moldova.

Diplomatically

Seamus Coleman's presence at the pre-match gig in Vienna meant that the subject was bound to come up, but the Irish captain diplomatically managed to bat queries away.

O'Neill started down that route too, yet it's abundantly clear that the Irish camp remain distinctly unimpressed with the accusations that came from the Goodison Park hierarchy.

In September, Koeman was miffed when Coleman was thrown into the Serbian match with an interrupted prep, and that all worked out in the end.

"Seamus is not caught up in the middle of it, he's here and he wants to play. I seriously think it's over now, as far as we're concerned. Just let us move on," said O'Neill before moving on to McCarthy's absence from this gathering after Koeman publicly applied pressure.

"I put James into a provisional squad because he thought that he might get through. It was always the probability that he wouldn't make it. And because it's a hamstring, I wouldn't really want to risk him.

"But the time that he played before, he had recovered from the injury and the point was made that he was in Everton's squad a few days later.

"As far as I'm concerned it's all over and I'm hoping that James is available again come March time.

"I don't think players get caught in that trap (club versus country) at all, and I don't think it would be right for them to be caught between their club and country."

But the suggestion that he might pick up the phone and dial Koeman was not met with approval.

Relationship

Earlier in the week, his assistant Roy Keane said that a good relationship between the respective parties wasn't really necessary. And that was on message with comments from O'Neill last week when he discussed the 'bleating' from Everton's manager.

"He would join my to-call list, but I should first put a call into Donald Trump to congratulate him. And then give my commiserations to Hillary Clinton. Then somewhere down the line, Koeman, yes," said O'Neill.

"But there is also the possibility that someone might call me, no?"

The percentage call is that we haven't heard the last of this episode. And it would certainly make for an interesting discussion if it ever comes to pass.

Your guide to Austria

Capital: Vienna

Official language: Austrian German

- Composers Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Joseph Haydn were born in Austria

- Austria's current national anthem is attributed to Mozart; it was chosen after World War 2 to replace the traditional anthem by Haydn

- Vienna-born actor Christopher Waltz won two Best Supporting Actors at the Oscars for his roles in Inglourious Basterds in 2010 and Django Unchained in 2013

- Arnold Schwarzenegger is arguably the most well known Austrian, famed for his starring roles in The Terminator before he turned his attention to politics and became governor of California from 2003 until 2011

- In October 2012, Felix Baumgartner set the record for fastest speed of free fall at 1,357.64 km/h, making him the first human to break the sound barrier outside a vehicle

- Victoria's Secret model Nadine Leopold hit the headlines when her relationship with One Direction singer Harry Styles went public

- Innsbruck has twice hosted the Winter Olympics (1964 and 1976)

- In total, Austrian athletes have won 87 Olympic medals (18 gold, 33 silver and 36 bronze)

- Soccer, skiing and ice hockey are the most widely practised sports in Austria

- Austria finished fourth at the 1934 World Cup and third at the 1954 World Cup

- Andi Herzog is the country's most capped player (103). Former striker Toni Polster is the top scorer in Austria's history with 44 goals

- Austria have failed to qualify for the last four World Cups.

- They have only ever qualified for two European Championships and crashed out at the group stage in France during the summer

- Hannover midfielder Martin Harnik is the current squad's most experienced player with 61 caps, while Basel striker Marc Janko tops the scoring charts with 28 goals

- Two players in their squad to play Ireland ply their trade in the Premier League; Kevin Wimmer (Spurs) and Marco Arnautovic (Stoke) while the uncapped Michael Madl plays in the Championship with Fulham

- Austria lie 30th in the FIFA world rankings. Their highest ranking was 10th, earlier this year. Their lowest ever ranking was 105, in July 2008)

- The biggest win in their history was a 9-0 thrashing of Malta in 1977. England handed Austria their heaviest defeat (11-1) in 1908

Irish Independent

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