Wednesday 23 October 2019

Question time for O'Neill over future

Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

MICHAEL O'NEILL will today face questions on his future amid increased speculation from north of the border that he has moved firmly into pole position to take over as Northern Ireland manager.

The 42-year-old's departure from Shamrock Rovers has overshadowed the build-up to tomorrow's marquee visit of Spurs to Tallaght for the end of the Europa League campaign.

O'Neill is due to appear at the pre-match press conference which will follow his final training session with the Hoops players. He told them on Sunday that he was leaving due to a breakdown in negotiations with the board.

After a highly successful three years in Tallaght, O'Neill will move on to a new challenge, and he has returned to the head of the market for the Northern Ireland role.

Weekend reports in the North had suggested that Iain Dowie, Jim Magilton and Gerry Armstrong were the front-runners, but that was before the news of O'Neill's parting with Rovers. Armstrong, who was recently employed by the IFA to counter the loss of players to the Irish set-up, says he hasn't heard from the authorities about an interview.

He added that another candidate, ex-Cardiff boss Dave Jones, was in the same boat. Armstrong acknowledged that O'Neill was a strong contender. "There are a lot of good candidates that have applied and he's got as good a chance as any," he said.

However, the 1982 World Cup hero did also try and suggest that O'Neill was engaging in gamesmanship with the Hoops. "I would say he's looking for a better contract or a better deal," he said.

Alas, the relationship is beyond repair, with the club tired of the impasse and deciding to stop discussions with O'Neill.

Spurs boss Harry Redknapp will also speak in Tallaght this evening, although the Londoners won't be training at the stadium. Instead, they will go through their paces in Chigwell before boarding the flight. Spurs need Rubin Kazan to lose to PAOK in Greece and also turn around a five-goal deficit if they are to qualify for the last 32.

Redknapp has placed the competition well down his list of priorities and will travel with an understrength selection. Midfielder Niko Krancjar should play a part and Redknapp will assess the well-being of his other senior players ahead of the weekend Premier League clash with Sunderland before finalising his plans.

Irish Independent

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