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'I’m ready' - Former Ireland boss O'Neill keen to return to management

Martin O’Neill’s five-year tenure as Republic of Ireland manager came to an end last month.

Martin O'Neill was appointed Ireland manager in 2013.
Martin O'Neill was appointed Ireland manager in 2013.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

JUST OVER A month since his five-year stint as Republic of Ireland senior manager ended, Martin O’Neill believes the time is right for his next assignment.

O’Neill and the Football Association of Ireland parted company following a dreadful year for the national team which yielded just one win from nine games, prompting the FAI to hand the reins to Mick McCarthy.

However, in an interview with the Daily Telegraph, the 66-year-old from Derry defended his record during his time in charge of the Boys in Green.

A win over Italy sent Ireland into the second round at the 2016 European Championships, where they were eventually beaten by current world champions France. The team’s bid to qualify for this year’s World Cup ended in the play-offs with a 5-1 thumping by Denmark.

“You know, there was some criticism in Ireland that I did not have a plan,” said O’Neill. “We qualified for the Euros and reached the knockout stage for the first time.

“In the history of the World Cup and the European Championships put together, Ireland have qualified six times for those tournaments. I’ve been one of them.

“As fourth seeds, we then got to the play-offs for the World Cup, where we were well beaten, it has to be said, but if a goal against Austria had not been incorrectly ruled out [earlier in the campaign] we would have gone to the World Cup as group winners.

“I don’t think you could do that without a plan and strategy. You cannot do that without guile as a manager, tactics and a plan.”

O’Neill also dismissed suggestions that his approach to management is too archaic for modern football, before insisting that he’s ready for a new role in the game.

“I still possess that strong self-belief, I will always back myself,” he said. “I will back myself in whatever job I take next.”

The former Celtic and Aston Villa boss added: “I feel young, I’m ready and I’ve been involved with young people, with players in my managerial career for quite some considerable time.

“I don’t feel that that age should have anything to do with it. I’m ready to return.”

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Paul Dollery

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