Martin O’Neill has ridiculed Gareth Bale for trying to appeal against the yellow card he was shown for a terrible tackle on John O’Shea during Wales’s World Cup qualifier in Dublin and argued he should consider himself fortunate that he was not sent off. O’Neill chose his words carefully, but is clearly annoyed by the fact Bale has shown little contrition for a knee-high lunge that could easily have broken O’Shea’s leg.
The Republic of Ireland manager also pointed out that, had the Real Madrid star been shown the red card he arguably deserved, Neil Taylor would not have made the tackle that ended up snapping Seamus Coleman’s leg in two places seconds later. The fact that yellow cards can be appealed against only in the case of mistaken identity also drew a withering response from O’Neill, who revealed Coleman is still trying to come to terms with the psychological effects of his double leg break.
Coleman will remain in hospital in Dublin for the next few days and, although sources have told the Telegraph that doctors expect the Everton defender to make a full recovery, they have also confirmed he is unlikely to play again this year.
O’Neill has described both Bale and Taylor’s tackles as “very, very poor” but also feels there has been an attempt to avoid taking responsibility inside the Wales camp after their manager Chris Coleman claimed Bale wanted to appeal so that he could play in their next World Cup qualifier against Serbia in June.
“I can’t see how they can possibly appeal a card when it was very close to being red and on another day he would have been shown red,” said O’Neill. “I don’t think anyone can disagree that both challenges were very poor, very poor indeed. You can only appeal a yellow card when it is a case of mistaken identity anyway, so I don’t know why he has said that. If the referee had shown Bale a red card, the tackle on Seamus quite possibly wouldn’t have happened.”
O’Neill revealed that, although the pain has subsided, Coleman now has to deal with the mental problems that come with the frustration of a lengthy rehabilitation.
Both club and country will suffer as a result of the Everton defender’s absence, although Fifa has confirmed it would pay the player’s wages while he remains out injured because it happened while he was on international duty.
“He’s just coming to terms with it, he’s still pretty down,” said O’Neill ahead of Tuesday night’s friendly against Iceland. “He’s not in as much pain and the operation went very well. Great players have broken their legs and come back and Seamus, it’s very early to consider those things, but it’s possible. He’s down, as he would be, as the realisation that he will be out for some considerable time dawns on him.
“These things don’t take five minutes to get over, but he has good people around him, his family are strong, and he is confident he can get around it. It has overshadowed everything. Even the result on Friday evening was secondary. It’s a bad blow for the player, it’s a bad blow for Everton and us. He was missed even in the last couple of days around the place.”