Martin O’Neill falls short of giving his support to under-pressure FAI chief John Delaney
Manager focusing on England as questions mount for Delaney
Martin O'Neill stopped short of giving his full support to FAI chief executive officer John Delaney yesterday as the storm around the controversial €5m payment from FIFA intensified.
At the pre-match press conference before Ireland's game against England at the Aviva today, O'Neill was asked if John Delaney had his full support.
"John Delaney brought me into the FAI, I just said that," said O'Neill. "He brought me in, wanted me to manage the side and I was delighted to do so, delighted to have the opportunity and I would like to see that through. That's what I'm looking at and that's what I want to do. I haven't had any discussions on the political side with John or the FAI board at any given stage."
When asked if he felt the reputation of the FAI had been damaged by the affair, he said it wasn't in his domain to deal with it any further. "I am the manager of the team."
John O'Shea, who was on the pitch on that night in Paris when Ireland missed out on qualification for the 2010 World Cup, said the players would have preferred a replay. But he dismissed the suggestion by the French coach at the time Raymond Domenech that the players should receive some of the money as "ridiculous".
"What the players would have been looking for, ideally, if there was to be anything from it was a replay, it wouldn't have been monetary benefits. But the game was done and dusted and these things happen." O'Shea went on to say the squad remains focused on the game against England and the crucial qualifier next Saturday against Scotland.
"The FAI have made everything as public as possible and they've dealt with it as quickly as possible so we move on," he said.
Meanwhile, the England manager Roy Hodgson said last night he was hopeful that today's game would demonstrate that the two countries have moved on since the abandoned game 20 years ago.
"It's always important our fans conduct themselves in the right way. It was a long time ago. I was at the game 20 years ago. We can't harp on all the time about things that have happened 20 years ago.
"I'd like to think that the relationships between Ireland and England have moved on incredibly in that time. A lot has happened on the Irish mainland in the last 20 years, and a lot has happened in our football. I hope that after the game, all the talk will be about the quality of the match, the football, and that this unfortunate and rather shameful incident, which happened 20 years ago, will remain in the past and we will continue to move on."
The English FA has taken the unprecedented step of writing to the 3,000 England fans expected to attend today's game to remind them that sectarian chants, including anti-IRA chants, are unacceptable.
The authorities in England have also take the unusual step of asking every England individual who has a banning order to report to police stations in England at kick-off time tomorrow.
Wayne Rooney said he hoped the game would be as peaceful as the match between the two sides at Wembley in 2013.
"The Irish had 20,000 at Wembley and there were no issues there. I'm sure our fans will come over and behave themselves and enjoy the match."
Sunday Indo Sport