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'It's only two years since he came home a hero after Euro 2016... People have short memories'

John Giles has some sympathy for Martin O’Neill, whose reign as Ireland boss ended on Wednesday.

John Giles was speaking at the Beacon Hospital's launch of a new sports medicine programme in partnership with Leinster Senior Football League.
John Giles was speaking at the Beacon Hospital's launch of a new sports medicine programme in partnership with Leinster Senior Football League.
Image: Stephen McCarthy/SPORTSFILE

JOHN GILES HAS some sympathy for Martin O’Neill after the Derry native’s reign as Ireland manager came to an end on Wednesday.

The Leeds United great, who is widely considered one of the country’s all-time best players and also managed the national team himself between 1973 and 1980, suggested the decision of O’Neill and the FAI to part ways was the right call ultimately but also illustrated how cruel football can be.

“When things are not going well on the pitch, the players take the blame, when things are going well on the pitch, the manager gets the credit, that’s the way it has been since time immemorial in football, and I suspect it is the way it will always be,” Giles said, while attending the launch of the Beacon Hospital’s new sports medicine programme in partnership with Leinster Senior Football League at Abbotstown.

“But when things are not going really well, then it comes back to the manager and questions start about his position. And nine times out of 10, all that is correct and right.

“It’s fine margins, we had chances to go two-up against Denmark last year, what would the position be then? But it’s not good to be beaten 5-1 either. And since then, 2018 has not been good and that is obvious.

Every manager has a shelf life, especially at international level, where you are judged on the result of a qualifying campaign every two years — get it wrong and you have to wait two years to put it right. Alf Ramsey was fired [not long] after winning the World Cup with England. Big Jack [Charlton] was fired after all he did for us, Trap was fired and look at all he won as a manager. It’s the way of the game.

“Saying [O'Neill's departure] was by mutual consent gives a bit more dignity to it, and I think that’s right. Martin did a lot of good for us — it’s only two years since he came home a hero after Euro 2016, that’s the way it happens in the game, people have short memories.”

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