Sport Soccer

Wednesday 13 December 2017

O'Neill throws hat in ring for Irish hot seat

Martin O'Neill is ready to return to football
Martin O'Neill is ready to return to football
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

MARTIN O'NEILL has revealed that there has been no contact from the FAI about the Ireland manager's job, but confirmed he is ready to return to football and admitted contemplating the challenges of international management.

The 61-year-old is the clear front-runner to succeed Giovanni Trapattoni, with the path clearing after Chris Hughton and Brian McDermott stressed they would be staying with Norwich and Leeds respectively.

McDermott backed O'Neill  as the ideal candidate, with Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert adding that his old boss at Celtic "could do the job standing on his head."

FAI CEO John Delaney is currently overseas and wants to sit down with the board of the association before devising a clear strategy for the next man.

However, O'Neill has strong support in FAI circles and it's anticipated that informal contact will be made with the Derry native to directly ascertain his interest ahead of the board discussion.

He is keen on the role, but had heard nothing from the FAI before sitting down for a lengthy BBC interview with former England rugby supremo Clive Woodward last night.

"I'd like to put it there I've had no contact from the Irish FA (FAI) and there's not much more I can say about it," said O'Neill, who said that he is anxious to get back working after a spell on the sidelines since leaving Sunderland in March.

"I've had time for reflection, but am I in a state of equanimity, a state of composure? Am I of composed mind? No, I think I'm ready to go," he joked.

Woodward, who told O'Neill that the Irish role was a 'wonderful' opportunity, asked his friend for his views on the differences between club and international management.

The ex-Northern Ireland player stressed that the limited time working with a squad places much more emphasis on short-term targets.

"International management is like tournament football condensed into a few weeks," said O'Neill.

"You're not going to be able to do an awful lot with the players. What you can do is get organisation in, work on set-pieces, which are a big part of the game. You're praying that all your best players turn up.

"It's (about) the winning of football games. I don't think any international manager has to concern himself with a long-term future. If he's part of something that he sets up, well and good, but he has to win football matches."

Delaney said yesterday that the association would "ideally" like to have a new boss in place for next month's World Cup dead rubbers with Germany and Kazakhstan.

"We have 12 months before we play our first (Euro) qualifiers. It's important we get the right man in so we qualify for France 2016," said Delaney.

He added that he has been contacted by a variety of agents offering fresh candidates and said he would not rule out another continental manager to follow Giovanni Trapattoni.

However, barring a dramatic shift in the association's attitude, O'Neill (pictured) is in the box seat, with Ipswich boss Mick McCarthy the back-up option.

Meanwhile, broadcaster Bill O'Herlihy says he is "delighted" that Trapattoni is gone.

"He has been dead man walking for at least a year," said O'Herlihy last night.

Speaking to the Irish Independent he said he believes the Italian was awarded his pre-Euro 2012 contract extension too soon.

"I think it was a premature thing, I think he kind of railroaded a contract through," he said.

"The achievement of reaching the Europeans was substantial I think, but he shouldn't have got a contract out of it.

"He shouldn't have been considered until after we played in the finals," added the veteran presenter.

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