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Wednesday 22 February 2017

John Giles: Martin O'Neill is right to delay new Ireland contract

Published 25/03/2016 | 19:19

Ireland manager Martin O'Neill and Robbie Keane
Ireland manager Martin O'Neill and Robbie Keane

MARTIN O’Neill has not agreed or signed a new deal with the FAI and personally, I can't see why there should be any fuss about that.

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With all situations like this, it is best to look at the issue in a cold, logical way. Try putting yourself in his shoes and the current apparent stalemate between O'Neill and the FAI is easy to explain.

I believe he will have offers and may even have already had one or two. I think he is doing what any sensible man would do in this situation and keeping all doors wide open.

If I was in his shoes, I would do exactly the same thing. What's the rush? This issue hasn't really arisen for the FAI before because in the past, they have favoured nailing down their man before tournament finals.

They did it with Mick McCarthy and they did with Giovanni Trapattoni and in both cases, it didn't go so well in the aftermath.

From where I'm sitting, O'Neill is not minded to sign anything and I think it is good for all concerned to wait until after the finals, if necessary, to complete a deal.

I do think he fancies another go at full-time management and we know that at any given time, there's a half dozen clubs with fluid situations in that area.

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My own belief is that clubs have already made enquiries and there will be more. I’ve nothing to base that on other than the certainty that his work with Ireland has been high profile and successful enough to restore a reputation which shipped some damage during and after his spell at Sunderland.

For the moment and until the end of the Euro 2016 finals, he is the boss and he has a chance to make some refinements in his head to the 23 names he will ultimately choose.

These two games against Switzerland tonight at the Aviva and against Slovakia on Tuesday will give him a really good chance to empty his bench and have a look at young lads and fringe players.

It is a great pity that Harry Arter is missing for these games because I would have liked to see him play in both.

I’m almost happy to see Jon Walters and Jeff Hendricks back in England with injuries. O'Neill knows what he will get from them and they don't need any extra games if their fitness is in any way fragile.

No, this is a chance to try new things and new faces. So far, there is no sign of anyone copying James McClean in 2012 when he played so well for Sunderland that Giovanni Trapattoni had to pick him.

Maybe someone like McClean will emerge in the next week and give O’Neill a real problem when he sits down to fit faces to his 23 places.

Herald

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