Koeman’s claims about James McCarthy ‘utterly untrue’
Everton manager said that Martin O’Neill ignored the advice of FAI medical staff
Ireland’s James McCarthy was injured in the warm-up before their World Cup qualifying clash with Wales. Photo: Ryan Byrne/Inpho
Claims by Everton manager Ronald Koeman that Martin O’Neill ignored the advice of the FAI’s own medical staff as he sought to start James McCarthy against Wales last Friday have been described as “absolutely and utterly untrue.”
Koeman had wasted no time in criticising O’Neill for his attempt to use McCarthy in the World Cup qualifier despite a hamstring problem with the Everton coach claiming that his Ireland counterpart pressed ahead despite the reservations of the both the FAI’s medical staff and the advice of the club’s.
“It was a final decision against the medical staff of Ireland and also against the medical staff of Everton,” claimed Koeman who also criticised his own player. “There are two people responsible for that. One is the player by himself. Finally, if he says, yes I’m fit, ok, but even the player needs protection from the manager and, once again, they didn’t give that protection to the player.”
But FAI sources insist that the Irish medical staff never advised that the midfielder could or should not play while O’Neill said that McCarthy had wanted to, even after “overstretching” in the pre-match warm up at which point it was the Irish management who made the final decision to replace him in the starting line up.
Koeman’s comments are likely to wreck any chance that the relationship between Everton and the association might be repaired any time soon. The Dutchman also compared O’Neill unfavourably with his predecessor, Roberto Martinez, now in charge of Belgium, and his treatment of Romelu Lukaku over the international break. “You like people to understand – not like Ireland,” he said.
O’Neill had acknowledged that there is “history” there between Everton and the association but suggested that he had recently attempted to bypass any ongoing tensions between the respective medical teams by contacting Koeman but that after his number had been left with Goodison Park officials, no call ever came.
He went on to say that he would attempt once again to contact his opposite number out of courtesy to discuss the Seamus Coleman injury but that seems less likely after Koeman’s latest public criticism which came,even before his weekly pre-match press conference, in an interview with the Daily Mirror.
There will be some exasperation around the association over the comments given that O’Neill maintains that McCarthy’s problems this season have been picked up while at his club and, while insisting on Tuesday night that he had acted entirely professionally with regard to the 26-year-old, he says it is up to the club and player to assess why that hamstring injury is recurring.
“That’s something the club and James will have to look at because we’re not in control of him,” he said on Tuesday night, after the game against Iceland. “If you look, he hasn’t been with us now for a long, long time so what he does at club level is something that’s outside our jurisdiction. We only have him on these days and we’re guided by James, and our staff. The reason it seems to be more pronounced is because of the historical things seemingly between this country and Everton.”
Koeman, meanwhile, had rather kinder words for Coleman as he contemplates the start of his long road back to full fitness. “In all my years in football, Seamus is one of the best professionals I’ve ever worked with at any club,” he manager told the Everton website. “His dedication to the game, his attitude and motivation are always where they should be and that’s 100 per cent. He’s like that in training every day as well as in games.
“That mentality will really be helpful to him now in not only coming to terms with what has happened but in setting out on the road to recovery and, over time, in him building himself once more to the level he has maintained over many years here at Everton. That strength of character will be a big, big thing.
“It’s a big, big blow for the player and a big, big blow for the club,” he continued. “It takes time for everybody to come to terms with something like this and, of course, that is felt most deeply by Seamus himself. He was in pain when we spoke – it is normal to have some pain after such an injury – and, naturally, he was feeling very down. This is all normal. But he knows he will have a lot of support.”