Martin O'Neill brands Ronald Koeman 'master tactician in blame game' as James McCarthy row continues

Rhod Cannon
Martin O'Neill

Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill has stoked the fires between him and Ronald Koeman once again by labelling the Everton boss "a master tactician in the blame game" after the Dutchman slammed him over his treatment of James McCarthy.

The Everton player suffered a hamstring injury while on international duty last week. The news incensed Koeman, who revealed that the Toffees' medical team warned Ireland officials that McCarthy was carrying an injury. O'Neill and co seemingly did not listen to the information and saw fit to start the former Wigan star against Wales, only for him to suffer a recurrence of his hamstring issue in the warm-up.

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Instead of relenting and attempting to make peace, O'Neill took another swipe at Koeman and questioned Everton's pre-season schedule. He suggested that the former Southampton boss should analyse his own methods before placing the blame on others.

"Once again the Everton manager, master tactician of the blame game, has struck out in his comments, criticising both myself and James McCarthy," O'Neill said in a statement on Ireland's official website. "Perhaps a review of Everton's pre-season programme might provide some enlightenment.

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"James had a magnificent tournament for the Republic of Ireland last summer during at Euro 2016, playing his last game in very late June.

"He then returned to Everton after a very short break, but only 11 days later, he played his first of three games, all within an eight-day period, against Real Betis, Manchester United and Espanyol. Overloading?"

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"It should be added that James last played for his country on 9 October - almost half-a-year ago. Since that time he has been totally under Everton's supervision. James is diligent and conscientious in his professional preparation. Perhaps, in this instance, quiet introspection may serve the Everton manager and his medical staff better."

Koeman refused to let O'Neill's accusations lie and swiftly responded to the boss with a short but sweet statement on Twitter: "James McCarthy began his pre-season three-and-a-half weeks after Ireland were knocked out of the Euros. From the master tactician."

Koeman may have more pressing matters to contend with, such as the Merseyside derby, but his spat with O'Neill is currently showing no signs of relenting.

Ronald Koeman

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