Monday 22 January 2018

'I'm surprised its not been sorted'- Kevin Kilbane puzzled by O'Neill contract uncertainty

Aviva's FAI Junior Cup ambassador Kevin Kilbane surprises Pike Rovers super fan Luke Grimes with VIP tickets for the final on Saturday week (SPORTSFILE)
Aviva's FAI Junior Cup ambassador Kevin Kilbane surprises Pike Rovers super fan Luke Grimes with VIP tickets for the final on Saturday week (SPORTSFILE)
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

Kevin Kilbane believes that Martin O'Neill would be attractive to Everton if they decided to replace Roberto Martinez, but the former Ireland international is surprised that the Irish boss is set to enter Euro 2016 with his long-term intentions up in the air.

Bookmaker-driven speculation has linked O'Neill with Everton this week and, while stories which start from that source must be treated carefully, Kilbane can see the wider attraction of O'Neill to an established operation.

It's the fact that the 64-year-old is fair game for managerial merry-go-round discussion which is of interest to Kilbane.

"I think Everton is a club he could manage well," said Kilbane yesterday. "I think it would suit him the way he is and the way Everton are. He is probably appealing to a number of clubs, whether or not some supporters might feel he's not necessarily had the success. Ranieri defeats that argument now.

"Any chairman or board member or chief executives who spend time in Martin's company. . . you're charmed by him, aren't you? He has that way about him. He's enigmatic, he captivates you when he speaks to you.

"I'm surprised that nothing's been sorted with regards his contract anyway. There are obviously reasons for that. But it's quite surprising that we're on the cusp of the Euros and he could have three more competitive games as manager without anyone knowing where his future going to lie."

O'Neill suggested last week that he was conscious of how the disastrous Euro 2012 affected Giovanni Trapattoni: in other words, he was a busted flush after the tournament but was already committed to a new contract.

Kilbane can see the logic of mindset, yet thinks Ireland are in a completely different place compared to four years ago so shouldn't even be contemplating a similar outcome from what he feels is an easier group.

"There was a lot of negativity around the squad going into that tournament," he said. "And he's well within his rights to do that (wait and see).

"But I suppose it's up to others to maybe turn his head and make the decision for him. I think then it makes it easier for everybody. Players will come in and they'll get asked about it in the lead-up to the Euros.

"They're questions that they can't answer and it's a difficult position for them to be in. It won't impact on performances but there's an awkwardness so I'd prefer it was done and dusted now."

"We've never been in this position before. So that tells me something is wrong. That's my gut instinct."

Assistant manager Roy Keane is also in the news, with Celtic persistently mentioned and Kilbane thinks he would be suited to that job, although another option is the Corkman assuming the top job from O'Neill.

Kilbane doesn't believe that a nightmare in France would make the management team less attractive to prospective suitors.

"Maybe they've angled a situation for themselves which kind of suits everyone," he continued. "If it doesn't go right, they've had the success of getting us to a tournament and that puts their stock quite high."

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