‘There is nothing that irritated me more’ – O’Neill

Ben Blake
‘There is nothing that irritated me more’ – O’Neill
‘There is nothing that irritated me more’ – O’Neill

Ireland manager martin O’Neill will not be advising any of his players to move away from their clubs, at least not publicly, as it is one of his pet hates as a manager.

During his time in charge of Ireland, O’Neill’s predecessor Giovanni Trapattoni often spoke openly about his players’ club situations and suggested that both Darron Gibson and James McCarthy would benefit from leaving for new pastures.

O’Neill got to see the impact of such comments during his time in charge of the likes of Leicester City, Celtic, Aston Villa and Sunderland and has promised to keep quiet when it comes to matters of that nature.

“There was nothing that irritated me more as a club manager than when I had fallen out with a player and the international manager said he should move,” O’Neill said when asked about Wes Hoolahan’s lack of game time at Norwich this season.

“It’s none of your business to be telling him he should be moving! Sometimes it was a wee bit lost in translation but it was irritating.

“I do not want to be running around telling Wes Hoolahan he should do this or do that. And I certainly don’t want Chris (Hughton) on the phone saying ‘Martin, hold on.’.

“I wouldn’t be turning around and saying players should head off on loan just for my benefit. It just doesn’t happen and the club will ignore it – especially if I suggest it.”

Dubliner Hoolahan has spent most of this season on the Canaries bench and, at 31, may look at his options if things don’t change over the Christmas schedule.

While he may not be a regular starter in Chris Hughton’s team, O’Neill insists that he was impressed by the Dubliner against Latvia and added that being out of favour at club level won’t stop him from playing for Ireland.

Some players you know because of certain circumstances might not play every single week. Wes hasn’t played for Norwich for some time but I thought he was excellent for us in the game against Latvia. I thought he did very well.

“Of course you would love players to be playing regularly because they’re getting that competitive feel all the time.

“It doesn’t mean I wouldn’t pick someone that I think has the ability but might not have played for four or five weeks. (But) it is easier to contemplate things if players are playing more regularly.”

Another Ireland squad member whose club future remains unclear is Shane Long. The West Brom striker has a year left on his contract and despite scoring important goals against Chelsea and Aston Villa in recent months, has been linked with a number of clubs including Nottingham Forest in the Championship.

Long may be Premier League class, but O’Neill sees no issue with players who need to drop down to the second tier in search of football.

“It is some time since I was manager at Leicester City but I don’t think it has got that much easier in the last 10-12 years. Some of those Championship games are particularly tough and occasionally you might actually get more room and time in the Premier League.

“It has always been the case. Eventually, plying your trade in the top division is something that you want to do. Someone going and playing regularly in the Championship I wouldn’t be dismissive of that at all.”

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