Martin O’Neill’s future remains unresolved

Weekend fails to bring clarity on Republic of Ireland manager’s plans

Neither O’Neill nor Stoke responded to attempts to contact them on Sunday while the FAI would not comment on the situation.

Neither O’Neill nor Stoke responded to attempts to contact them on Sunday while the FAI would not comment on the situation.

 

Martin O’Neill’s future is still up in the air with the 65-year-old still believed to be in a strong position to land the Stoke City job. But as of Sunday evening there was no sign of an agreement being reached between the Premier League club and the man who assumed the status of frontrunner to be its next manager when Quique Sanchez Flores ruled himself out over the weekend.

Sanchez Flores had been offered a five-year contract said to come with a € 3.4 million salary although a key sticking point is understood to have been the club’s stipulation that, while the Spaniard would not be sacked, his pay would be cut significantly in the event that the team was relegated.

It seems highly unlikely that O’Neill would get an initial five-year term and the members of the Stoke board who preferred Gary Rowett and then Sanchez Flores may yet prove resistant to anything more than a fairly short term deal. Assuming they have had to fold on that at this stage, however, money could still prove to be an issue.

The Irishman may be in a strong position to command the same sort of salary that was offered to Sanchez Flores as Stoke sought to tempt him away from Espanyol. But if the club sticks to its guns over cutting the amount in the event that they suddenly find themselves in the Championship, the financial benefit to O’Neill of returning to club football could quickly be erased.

O’Neill earns just over €2 million at the moment, twice what he did under the terms of his first contract at the association. While it is not known what sort of cut the Stoke directors consider to be a reasonable consequence of relegation, it is possible that they envisage their next manager earning less than O’Neill currently does if they have to cut budgets so as to adapt to life in the second tier.

Neither O’Neill nor Stoke responded to attempts to contact them on Sunday while the FAI would not comment on the situation.

O’Neill had attended the Soccer Writers’ Association of Ireland annual banquet on Friday evening when it appeared that Sanchez Flores was on course to be appointed. The FAI along with many SWAI members took his attendance to be a sign that he was staying put, although his failure to comment in any way appears to have been influenced by an intention to keep his options open.

It seems that the FAI now expects the situation to be resolved over the next 48 hours but there is no particular sense that they are any clearer now out in Abbotstown about how things will turn out than they were through the course of last week.

Former Stoke striker, Jon Walters, a firm favourite of O’Neill at international level, insists the club should pull out all of the stops to recruit the Derry man.

“If you look at his record at Ireland and at previous clubs, if I was Stoke I would be desperate to get him,” the 34-year-old told the BBC. “It’s going back to simplicity. Stoke need organising. They need something because they’re down in the bottom three.

“As a player you want to play for him. If you ask any of his former players they’d say the same. Each manager is different but you can see what impact David Moyes has had at West Ham, what Roy Hodgson has had at Palace. Stoke need someone to go in and do a similar job.

“A lot of people are judging him on the Denmark game which was a terrible result,” the now Burnley player continued, “but if you look at how we’ve done under him with Ireland I can only see him as favourite.”

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