Tuesday 17 October 2017

'Leicester is old news' - Martin O'Neill reaffirms Irish commitment, but remains coy on future

Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill
Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

Martin O'Neill has stressed that his full commitment to Ireland for the remainder of the Euro 2016 campaign ruled out the possibility of a move to his former club Leicester City.

The Irish boss was on a list of candidates that Leicester were considering before the appointment of Claudio Ranieri but, speaking about the issue publicly for the first time today, O’Neill said that a Premier League comeback was always a non-runner because he is only halfway through the job he was appointed to do by the FAI.

“I have a commitment here and this is what I want to do,” said O’Neill, “When John (Delaney) asked me (to take job), I said we would take it up until the end of our involvement in the Euros. We’re halfway through, or still slightly over halfway, in this competition. We desperately want to get to France and the commitment is there 100pc.

“Leicester are a very good club, a really good club. It may not be the club that I had before. I was a manager at the old Filbert Street and they’ve since moved grounds and their escape was absolutely fantastic. This is yesterday’s news, it’s gone now. Leicester have appointed a manager with an excellent pedigree and I wish him all the very best.”

The FAI have not discussed extending O’Neill’s contract and it’s believed that they may wait until the end of the Euros campaign before deciding on their next move.

“That conversation will be for a future time,” suggested the 63-year-old, when discussing if he would like to stay for longer. “I said to you sometime ago that if I thought there was general progress on the side and also the infrastructure that I would re-look at it and see where we are. The FAI would have thoughts on that themselves too.”

O’Neill was in Sligo conducting the draw for the FAI Cup as part of the association’s Festival of Football building up to tomorrow’s AGM. The organisation’s finances will figure prominently in the discussion surrounding that event, with CEO John Delaney acknowledging yesterday that the €12m for making France would be vital in terms of servicing Aviva debt and developing the game.

But the experienced boss says that he doesn’t feel any pressure on account of that.

“Absolutely not,” he asserted, “That was never in consideration when I came into the job, absolutely not at all. If it’s a byproduct that the FAI make the money out of us qualifying, then that’s terrific. In terms of the money with the FAI, that’s never been made my concern with anyone at the FAI.”

He will attend next week’s World Cup draw in Russia, knowing there is a chance that it will be no relevance to him if the autumn brings disappointment.

“I can’t read into the future,” he said, “I’m in charge here and, of course, the draw for the World Cup seems an interminable time away for anybody who may not be involved. It’s not a problem. I can’t be reading too much into a future that may or may not exist.”

Meanwhile, O’Neill expects Everton to keep hold of James McCarthy this summer amid interest from Manchester City. “I think Everton would want to keep him and if he’s happy at Everton then why not?” he said. Roberto Martinez has declared that he wants to build his team around the Glaswegian.

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