Martin O’Neill has suggested he is likely to continue as the Republic of Ireland manager unless his employer has changed its mind about wanting him to stay.
The Football Association of Ireland had informally approached O’Neill about extending his tenure for another two years and the offer was not contingent on Ireland’s qualifying for the World Cup since it was made just before last month’s victory in Cardiff over Wales, the result that paved the way for the play-off that was lost to Denmark on Tuesday.
Although Ireland were beaten heavily by Denmark, O’Neill did not give the impression he wants to walk away. “I’ll sit down and speak with John [Delaney, the head of the FAI],” he said. “I thought John and myself had agreed to stay but we’ll see.”
Missing the World Cup means Ireland will not have a competitive match for 10 months and O’Neill says time will be needed to rebuild the team, with several of the squad likely to retire. He did not name names but players such as John O’Shea, Wes Hoolahan, Glen Whelan and Daryl Murphy are well into their 30s.
“There are some players who, if we’d qualified, would have continued on to the end of the campaign but maybe now they’ll rethink that and probably bring their international careers to the end,” said O’Neill. “In my time they’ve been fantastic for me. We need to start again, think about younger elements and trying to blood them through.”
He said he hoped that players who continue into the next campaign carry no mental scars from the humiliation by Denmark. “I hope it does take time for them [to get over],” he said. “But you have to fight back. This is a chastening experience for us. We’ve been well beaten, we’ve made a lot of mistakes, which is not really something we’ve been doing on a regular basis. The players will, I’m hoping, take a bit of time out to have a look at it. I hope it’s not mentally damaging and these players have proper careers in front of them.”
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010