Martin O’Neill ‘didn’t break any rules’ with Stoke City talks

Ireland manager admits he considered his future in the wake of defeat to Denmark

Martin O’Neill has said he ‘didn’t break any rules’ by speaking to Stoke City. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA

Martin O’Neill has said he ‘didn’t break any rules’ by speaking to Stoke City. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA

 

Republic of Ireland manager Martin O’Neill has defended his decision to enter talks with Stoke City last week over their managerial vacancy, insisting he “didn’t break any rules.”

Speaking on Wednesday in Lausanne, Switzerland ,at the draw for the inaugural Uefa Nations League which grouped Ireland with familiar foes Denmark and Wales, the Derryman provided an insight for the first time about the recent speculation over his future.

O’Neill only rubberstamped on Tuesday night the verbal agreement he made with the FAI in October to remain in charge for another two years.

While that gap appeared to hasten Stoke’s interest in recruiting O’Neill to replace Mark Hughes, the Ireland boss reaffirmed the revelation made by FAI chief executive John Delaney last week that he is permitted to speak with other suitors.

“First of all, in terms of adhering to my agreement with John (Delaney), I wasn’t any breaking rules for a start,” said O’Neill.

“Seemingly that was the call but I’m not one that is liable to take myself off at a moment’s notice. I’ve spent a number of years at clubs and I’ve been with Ireland four years. I wouldn’t take things too lightly and I’m delighted be managing Ireland.”

Despite that assertion, O’Neill did admit he had to reassess his future following the 5-1 mauling by Denmark in the World Cup play-off. He also pointed out that no specific terms on his new deal were discussed with the FAI when he made that vow to extend his stay before the concluding double-header of the World Cup qualification group.

He said: “I think you do take some time on these things. We had an agreement but you have to agree to terms for a start.

“I’m sure reporters are in the same position with employers. You might have an agreement but, until everything is actually settled with the finances, who knows?”

On the draw itself, O’Neill expressed his contentment at being afforded an opportunity to earn a measure of revenge against the Danes. Ireland’s four matches will take place between September and November.

“It’s a chance to get back at Denmark and I’m sure the players will feel the same,” he said.

“It is tough draw for us but nothing much has changed. We know the opposition and they know us.”

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