'Martin stood up for himself' - Niall Quinn offers passionate defence of O'Neill after Koeman spat
Niall Quinn believes Ireland manager Martin O’Neill ‘had every right’ to snap back at Everton manager Ronald Koeman in what became a bitter war of wars in the aftermath of the James McCarthy affair.
Koeman accused O’Neill of failing to protect McCarthy by encouraging the midfielder to play in the World Cup qualifier against Wales, even though he was carrying a hamstring injury.
That inspired the Ireland boss to respond with a feisty statement suggesting the Dutchman was a ‘master tactician of the blame game’, prompting a Twitter message from Koeman claiming O’Neill was ‘badly informed’ on the issue of McCarthy’s fitness.
The ongoing exchanges led many observers to suggest the two men should could have handled the issue with a little more dignity, yet former Ireland striker Quinn has stated that he would not have stopped O’Neill expressing his views in such a forthright manner.
Quinn recruited O’Neill as Sunderland manager during his time in charge of the North East club, with his backing for the Irishman evident in these comments.
“If I was his chairman, as I was back at Sunderland, I wouldn’t have stopped Martin doing what he has done in recent days,” Sky Sports pundit Quinn told Independent.ie.
“Martin stood up for himself and that is all part of the man he is. I don’t have a problem with it. He had every right to do what he did.
“It emancipates his spirit that he didn’t just laugh it off and ignore Koeman’s comments. He fired straight back and I wouldn’t have expected anything else from him.
“Martin has always been good at coming back from pressurised situations if somebody calls him out. I remember him being like that even before I knew him when he was doing punditry. If somebody disagreed with him, he’d come straight back in.
“There was never enough time to think about it, he was so sharp and bright. It is played out so much so much bigger these days that the story got bigger. The quicker is goes away for the two of them the better.”
Quinn also praised McCarthy for his eagerness to push himself to the limit for the Irish cause, as he argued the midfielder showed the kind of desire to play for his country that is lacking in the modern game.
“The point that has been missed in all of this is we saw a lad going out of his way to try and play for his country and I’m sure Martin and Roy Keane were pleased by McCarthy’s eagerness to try and play,” he stressed.
“Everton may not be pleased with it, but is nice to see a player chasing glory and making a decision with his heart to try and get his country to the World Cup finals. He took on the power of his club and it didn’t work out.
“Now it looks like he has done the wrong thing, but from an Irish perspective, I give him credit for trying to play.”
Sky Sports is the best place to watch the Premier League run-in, with Manchester United v Chelsea and the last North London Derby between Tottenham and Arsenal at White Hart Lane live and exclusive this month.
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