FAI to open talks with O’Neill who admits he is ‘ready to go’
Derry man looks the preferred choice but FAI has not made an offer
Sources close to Martin O’Neill have said he is interested in the job, but says the FAI have not approached him yet.
Almost eight years after he knocked their officials back and they consoled themselves with the thought that he might be more interested “a little further down the line”, the FAI finally look set to discuss the Ireland manager’s job with Martin O’Neill over the coming days, with the northerner set, it seems, to be given first refusal.
In an interview broadcast by the BBC last night, the Derry man declined to discuss his interest in the job, saying only that: “I’ve had no contact from the Irish FA, at this moment. And there’s not much more I can say about it.”
Pushed a little later on his state of mind given the current situation, however, the former Celtic and Sunderland boss remarked: “Am I in a state of equanimity? Am I of composed mind? No, I don’t think so. I think that I’m, eh, I’m ready to go.”
FAI intent on making contact
The 61 year-old will not, at least, have to wait long for the contact, with the FAI intent on making contact to establish the extent of his interest over the coming days.
Its board are scheduled to meet a consultant in the early or middle part of next week in order to decide what the process for recruiting the new manager will be, but it seems O’Neill’s attitude towards succeeding Giovanni Trapattoni may have a major bearing on their approach.
Sources close to O’Neill have said he is interested in the job but a combination of his salary demands and, most likely, a willingness to show a greater day-to-day commitment to the role than Trapattoni will be taken by the association’s representatives as a more reliable indication of his seriousness.
If they are happy and the association is confident it can strike a deal with him – or even reach an outline agreement with him – then the board may end having to do no more than rubber stamp a proposal to formally offer him the job.
In that event, O’Neill should comfortably be in place for the qualifiers against Germany and Kazakhstan next month, with what the FAI hopes would be a popular appointment potentially paying an immediate dividend in the form of a boost to the attendance at a games that would otherwise be largely meaningless.
If, on the other hand, things do not work out with O’Neill then the association are likely to look at establishing the same sort of recruitment process that led them to Trapattoni almost six years ago. A a target date for an appointment would thus be shunted well down the line, with the organisation anxious not to get the decision wrong because they rushed things.