Belfast Telegraph

Friday 29 August 2014

O'Neill: No contact for Ireland job

Martin O'Neill, pictured, is the bookmakers' favourite to succeed Giovanni Trapattoni is Ireland manager

Former Sunderland and Aston Villa manager Martin O'Neill says he has not been contacted over the vacant management role with the Republic of Ireland.

The 61-year-old Northern Irishman, who represented his country 64 times as a midfielder, has been out of work since leaving the Black Cats in March and became the overwhelming bookmakers' favourite to replace Giovanni Trapattoni as Republic boss when the Italian was sacked on Wednesday.

But when speaking to Sir Clive Woodward on BBC Radio Five Live on Thursday evening, O'Neill gave the link short shrift, saying: "I have had no contact whatsoever from anyone at the Irish FA at this moment and there's not much more I can say about it."

It is, however, understood the Ulsterman is open to an approach, while former Ireland manager Mick McCarthy, currently in charge at Ipswich, has not distanced himself from speculation linking him to the vacancy.

Whoever the new Republic of Ireland manager is, he could face a baptism of fire in Germany.

Football Association of Ireland chief executive John Delaney has admitted that, in an ideal world, he would like to have Trapattoni's replacement in place in time for next month's World Cup qualifiers against Group C leaders Germany - who won 6-1 at the Aviva Stadium in October last year - and Kazakhstan.

Delaney told Sky Sports News: "Ideally it would be nice to have a manager in place for the games in October, but that's not a must because it's 12 months until we play our first European qualifiers in September.

"It's important that we get the right man in so we qualify for France 2016."

Ireland's hopes of reaching the World Cup finals in Brazil are virtually over with a six-point gap behind second-placed Sweden with two games remaining.

Norwich boss Chris Hughton and Leeds counterpart Brian McDermott, who were both mentioned - along with O'Neill, McCarthy and Roy Keane - by Delaney as prospective candidates in a radio interview on Wednesday, have ruled themselves out.

The Keane camp was remaining tight-lipped on Thursday, and Delaney would not be drawn on his chances of being appointed after his infamous departure from Saipan before the 2002 World Cup finals.

Delaney said: "It would be an interesting appointment, but it's probably inappropriate for me to comment on individuals because if I start talking about one being ruled in or ruled out, that wouldn't be correct for me.

"We are going to get a new manager and that manager's objectives will be to get us to the European Championship in 2016.

"Football, as we all know, tends to surprise us, but I wouldn't read anything in to someone being a favourite or not being a favourite."

Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert believes O'Neill is an ideal candidate.

He said: "There's no doubt about it, he could do the job standing on his head. No problem.

"I've always said he's a fantastic manager and it would be up to him whether he'd want to go into international football or go back to club football. I don't know but whoever takes him has got a great manager."

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