Friday 19 January 2018

John Delaney remains coy on 'terrific manager' Martin O'Neill

Martin O'Neill - the clear favourite to be the next manager
Martin O'Neill - the clear favourite to be the next manager
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

JOHN Delaney has described Martin O'Neill as a "terrific manager" but has declined to comment on whether he will be appointed as the next Ireland boss.

The Derry man is understood to be the FAI's choice to replace Giovanni Trapattoni, but the process cannot accelerate until he is officially approached to confirm his interest and the board of the association sit down to discuss their strategy.

A delegation from the FAI, including Delaney, is in Croatia until Thursday at a UEFA summit, and the chief executive is pencilled in for an appearance in Ballinasloe that evening.

The rest of the hierarchy are expected to be present in Dublin today for an EGM related to rule changes and the ongoing civil war in the schoolboy game over the 'radius rule'.

While the waiting game on O'Neill (right) continues, Delaney sung the experienced manager's praises in an exclusive interview with independent.ie but he refused to expand on his prospects in the Irish race and stressed that the FAI haven't made contact with the 61-year-old.

"I have no problem saying that Martin O'Neill has been a terrific manager in his career, a terrific man and I admire him very, very much," said Delaney.

"But I wouldn't comment on Martin O'Neill or any other person as to whether they will be the next Ireland manager because that would be unfair. We are in a process. I would love today to be announcing whoever the new manager is if that were possible, but it's not.

"It will take a little bit of time given the fact the board of the FAI have yet to meet. We will look at the job description, who has applied and then the process as to how to appoint.

"I won't comment on any individual one, but what I will say about Martin O'Neill is that he is a terrific manager and has had a great career in football, both as a player and a manager."

Delaney insisted he would have no problem working with Roy Keane again if he were to come into the frame despite their historical differences, which date back to the 2002 World Cup.

"It's not a question of whether I could," he said. "Saipan is gone now and people have to forget about it. To be fair to him, he gets asked about it, which is why he comments. I will work with whoever is presented to us to make Irish football great.

"No personality issues that may have been there in the past should stop people working together for the sake of Irish football."

Delaney added that new names continue to enter the race, with a range of agents phoning Abbotstown since Trapattoni departed on Wednesday.

"Denis O'Brien has been brilliant supporting the manager project and is staying on for at least another two years, so that gives us the support in the market if we so wish to attract... I won't say big names, but a good manager," he said.

"We want to get a manager who gets the best out of the players available to us."

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