Belfast Telegraph

Republic boss Martin O'Neill to snub Premier League and pen new Ireland deal

 

By Adam McKendry

Republic of Ireland chiefs are confident that manager Martin O'Neill will stay in charge of the national side despite interest in him from struggling Premier League club Everton.

The Toffees have now made former England manager Sam Allardyce their number one target and the FAI are eager to tie up O'Neill right away.

The FAI remain firm in their belief that the Northern Irishman will honour the contract he verbally agreed with them in October, before the Republic's World Cup dream ended at the hands of Denmark earlier this month.

O'Neill and assistant coach Roy Keane both agreed new deals in principle that will keep them in charge of the Republic national team until after the European Championships in 2020.

"The contract is agreed and it is just a question of signing it. As of now, there is no reason to believe that he won't," was the view of the FAI's honorary treasurer Eddie Murray.

It was no surprise that O'Neill was in Everton's thoughts given his success with the Republic of Ireland over the last few years, taking them to the European Championships last summer.

The 65-year-old led the Republic to France where they reached the knockout stages, defeating Italy along the way before going out at the hands of the host nation.

O'Neill also received praise for managing to shock Wales in the final game of their World Cup qualifying campaign to earn the Republic a spot in the play-offs.

Yet, it is understood that he was badly hurt by the stinging criticism that followed when his men were thumped 5-1 by the Danes in the second leg of their play-off. That led to speculation he was being tempted back into club management.

But it is believed that O’Neill will get a shot at redemption and will stay at the helm of the national side, leading them into their qualification campaign for the 2020 Euros.

With the verbally agreed deal on the table, and the FAI willing to leave it there amidst the interest from other parties, he has the backing of the governing body.

O’Neill also, crucially, has the backing of the players who believe him to be the right man to lead them forward despite that heartbreaking defeat to Denmark at the Aviva Stadium.

“We’ve got great manager who deserves a lot of credit. I hope he stays on,” winger James McClean said of O’Neill after the loss in Dublin.

“The manager has been great. The manager did a great job in getting us to the last 16 of European Championships and a World Cup play-off from a tough group.

“He deserves a lot of credit for his job.”

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