Friday 19 October 2018

Stoke contact O'Neill about manager's job

Martin O'Neill. Photo: Sportsfile
Martin O'Neill. Photo: Sportsfile

John Percy and Daniel McDonnell

Stoke City have made contact with Martin O'Neill as they ramp up their search for a new manager.

O'Neill has verbally agreed a two-year contract to extend his spell in charge of the Republic of Ireland but the Stoke hierarchy are keen on the 65-year-old former Aston Villa and Sunderland coach.

The club have been forced to abandon their pursuit of Gary Rowett after the Derby County manager signed a new contract with the Championship side. He agreed an extension until 2021 that takes his salary to more than £1 million a year.

O'Neill, however, was also in Stoke's thoughts to replace Mark Hughes at the bet365 Stadium and they are now planning to meet with the Derryman, with the club hopeful of making an appointment before Monday's trip to take on Manchester United.

He is not guaranteed the job at this stage, with Stoke still considering other candidates.

O'Neill was provisionally due to be in Dublin this week for the Soccer Writers' Association of Ireland awards dinner, but it's now unclear if he will be attending the event.

That was up in the air before the Stoke vacancy arose, and FAI officials have expressed confidence that O'Neill will stay on.

But that was before Rowett left the picture, and the Abbotstown hierarchy may now have to play the waiting game as their manager assesses his options.

One potential scenario would be O'Neill taking control for the rest of the season and then returning to Ireland duties as there are no competitive games in the FAI's diary until the autumn.

Ireland's only commitment between now in the summer is a friendly with Turkey in March that is preceded by a brief training camp.

Rowett has opted to try and reach Premier League level with Derby who are currently second in the table behind runaway leaders Wolves.

Meanwhile, former Derby executive Malachy Brannigan is in line for a role when the American takeover of Dundalk is formalised this week.

Brannigan served as vice-president, finance and company secretary at Derby before a stint with Sheffield United as managing director. He has also worked with Hull, Coventry and Everton, and has been earmarked for the Irish brief by the US investors.

Irish Independent

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