O'Neill warns McClean to shape up
Soccer:Sunderland winger James McClean will be told to take greater responsibility for his career after risking his international future in a Twitter outburst.
The 23-year-old Republic of Ireland international was reprimanded by his team-mates and Giovanni Trapattoni last week after he publicly criticised the manager’s decision to leave him sitting on the bench during his country’s 2-1 World Cup qualifier victory in Kazakhstan on the social networking site.
He has since issued a humble apology to both the 73-year-old Italian and the rest of the Republic squad and closed down his Twitter account, and played the final 30 minutes of Tuesday night’s 4-1 friendly victory over Oman at Craven Cottage.
However, Black Cats boss Martin O’Neill has revealed the matter will be discussed further on his return to Wearside and the player will be told in no uncertain terms what is required of him.
“James has been acting rather strangely,” O’Neill said. “It’s good when the player not only wants to play, but he also wants to manage the team as well. James is rather young for that at the moment. I think Mr Trapattoni has got a couple of years on him and a couple of titles, too, in front of James, so I think he’s entitled to pick the team.
“He has even admitted himself he has been rather foolish. He has taken himself off Twitter, apparently then he might have a situation with Facebook as well and about 14 other accounts that he has. He has a bit of a problem and we will have to rectify it. We can have a bit of a joke about it and laugh about it and think: ‘Well, that’s okay’.”
Referring to his club‘s policy on such matters, he added: “He does know the rules - they were read to him, they were given to him, he was there that day - and not only that, some of his language was pretty poor and we will have to deal with that.
“Genuinely, we can have a laugh about it first of all, but now it’s getting a bit ridiculous.”
It is not the first time McClean, who has described his own behaviour as “idiotic”, has landed himself in hot water with his postings on Twitter. The Derry-born midfielder became the target of abuse after tweeting about his decision to represent the Republic rather than Northern Ireland.
O’Neill admitted the latest incident is a further lesson to young players on how they should conduct themselves as they attempt to make their way in the game.
He said: “I hate to use these words ‘role models’ because some players can do some great things outside the football club and it never gets recognised. These players here at Sunderland, actually, do as much as any players that I know at any football club, they do as much outside work as anybody.
“But this here is a situation where James has got a lot to really learn. He has got to temper everything and he has got to rein in, he really has to rein in. He has to show some responsibility now.”
McClean will hope for a chance to redeem himself further on Saturday evening when Liverpool head for the Stadium of Light in their first game since the publication of the independent report into the Hillsborough tragedy in which 96 of their fans died.
He may yet be joined by fellow wideman Adam Johnson, who was forced to withdraw from the England squad with a thigh injury ahead of the opening World Cup qualifier on Moldova.
The 25-year-old was due to train today and if he comes through that and tomorrow’s session unscathed, he could be involved.