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'I didn't really want Seamus answering that question as it's my responsibility'

Coleman wants his team-mates to take responsibility, but O’Neill says the buck stops with him.

Paul Dollery reports from Aarhus, Denmark

REPUBLIC OF IRELAND manager Martin O’Neill seemed eager to take responsibility for his team’s recent struggles at last night’s pre-match press conference in Denmark.

O’Neill was addressing the media at Ceres Park in Aarhus, where Ireland will conclude their inaugural Uefa Nations League campaign this evening (7.45pm Irish time) with a game of scant consequence.

Martin O'Neill Ireland manager Martin O'Neill flanked by captain Seamus Coleman in Aarhus last night. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Captain Seamus Coleman called on his team-mates to “man up” and “take responsibility” following Thursday’s goalless draw with Northern Ireland in Dublin. Last night, the Everton full-back was asked to elaborate on that point.

“It’s something that even at club level, I’ve said before — players on the pitch have to look for the ball, get angles on the ball,” said Coleman, while seated alongside Martin O’Neill.

“If I have the ball and don’t have two or three people looking for it, maybe I’ll give it away and it looks like it was my fault. It’s a collective thing. We didn’t look good against Northern Ireland and hopefully we can look a lot better.”

Coleman’s response was the type of candid statement we’ve come to expect from the Ireland captain. Nevertheless, his manager clearly wasn’t satisfied with the direction of the discussion.

Having seen his team win just once in eight games this year, O’Neill is hoping for a positive end to 2018. However, Ireland’s failure to score in their last three outings has created a grim outlook for the national team.

“I didn’t really want Seamus answering that question as it’s my responsibility, at the end of the day,” O’Neill said. “It’s my responsibility to get them to play. I want them to play with a bit of confidence, for a start; to restore that and get back to where we were not that long ago.

“But more importantly, to be more creative. That’s the thing that is very important. Naturally I want to do well in the game, be more creative and by being more creative you are hoping then to be able to create more chances.”

A view of training The Denmark squad training at Ceres Park in Aarhus last night. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Later on, when one Irish reporter attempted to ask Coleman what had been done on the training ground in recent days to address the aforementioned issues, O’Neill interjected.

Martin O’Neill: “That’s my responsibility. I think Seamus has answered that a number of times. That’s something that is down to me. I’m the manager.”

“Can I ask Seamus what has been done in last three days to get a better…”

MON: “I don’t think you should ask Seamus that. You should ask me that.”

“I’d like to ask the captain if he knows…”

MON: “I don’t think you should ask him, you should ask me.”

“Is it also down to the players?”

MON: “It’s down to me. Seamus is a player and is captain of the side, at the end of the day. He follows the instructions from me.” 

Seamus Coleman Seamus Coleman taking questions at the pre-match press conference. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

O’Neill, who remains in contract until the end of the Euro 2020 campaign, also batted away a question about his future in the job amid the intense scrutiny he has recently come under.

“The question has been asked a number of times and it is the same answer. You are in a job where you are constantly under pressure anyway. That’s the nature of the game,” he said.

“We just have to try and win some matches, whether they are friendlies or otherwise.”

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Paul Dollery

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