Brian Kerr calls for clarity over Martin O'Neill's future

Former Ireland boss says the FAI "went on Christmas holidays in November"

BY Jason Brennan 2 days ago, 18:58 13 Jan 2018

Manager Martin O'Neill ©INPHO/Ryan Byrne

Former Ireland manager Brian Kerr has called for clarity over Martin O'Neill's future as the Irish football manager.

Despite O'Neill and the FAI having verbally agreed a new deal back in October of last year, a contract has yet to be signed and now Premier League outfit Stoke City reportedly have a strong interest in O'Neill taking charge of the Potters.

O'Neill was said to be in the running for the position with Espanyol boss Quique Sanchez Flores, though the Spaniard has since ruled himself out of the job.

Speaking on TodayFM's Premier League Live, Kerr was less than impressed with the current uncertainty surrounding the country's top managerial post.

"If Flores is out of the picture does Martin come back in? We don't have a statement, we don't have any indication from Martin that either him or his representatives have been speaking to Stoke and neither have we any clarity from the FAI".

"I know we have no matches until March, it appears they've agreed a friendly game with Turkey and a four day training camp, but there's plenty of work to be done, plenty of players to be assessed, plenty of plans to be made. It's totally unsatisfactory that we don't know if the manager is committed one way or the other"

O'Neill was joined by assistant manager Roy Keane and a number of his backroom staff last night at the Soccer Writers' Association of Ireland banquet, and Kerr noted the managerial team's seating arrangement and lack of interaction with the press. 

"There was an insistence that it was an FAI table only, and it was odd, it was a show of strength. Steve Guppy, Steve Walford, Seamus McDonagh, Martin, and Roy, are suddenly all there surrounded by other FAI people. We were all squeezed, it looked like they had to get an extra table into the centre of the room to accommodate them".

"He usually sits at the top table, but I understand that it was an explicit request, that they sit surrounded by only their own people, so it was really odd". 

"I thought it was remarkable that they were all there at such short notice".

"It's not like they're all hanging around Dublin 2, living around Dublin 2, but they all managed to be there so it was a strange one".

Kerr also noted O'Neill's and the FAI's lack of interaction with the press, despite the dinner providing the perfect opportunity to let the public know where their relationship currently stands.

"There was like a bit of an old-style Berlin wall around them and they were saying nothing, there was no-one putting their head over the wall to talk to anybody else".

"He didn't communicate with any of the journalists that were there, who were a bit disappointed with that too, that he didn't make any statement whatsoever that he was interested in Stoke, or make a statement that he was fully committed to Ireland. Why doesn't he come out and say if he's fully committed to Ireland, or why don't the FAI make a statement saying 'he can do what he wants, he never signed a contract'? 

The former Ireland boss also criticised the FAI's handling of the situation, calling into question the lack of progress since announcing the verbal agreement of a deal in October.

"It just looks like the FAI have taken their eye off the ball since the Danish match. It's like the lights were turned off after the Christian Eriksen hat-trick and everyone went on Christmas holidays in November, and forgot that there's a lot of work to be done, and the work should start as early as possible. Alright, take a holiday for a couple of weeks, but it's not a two month holiday where football stops and you stop doing the job, and you stop making plans and longer plans for the future, and the whole future of the Irish game". 

"It's not just about the senior international team, it's across the board. We commitment, we need people that care about it enough, and to get stuck into it and work right across the game to encourage  coaches, to pass on their knowledge to the coaches so that we develop better players, better style of players, more technical players, better educated players, but the coaches need that help too. There's lots of work to be done and to me it looks like that's happening at the moment and certainly over the last couple of months". 

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