Count me out for Leicester return, insists Martin O’Neill

Date published: Sunday 26th February 2017 1:45

Republic of Ireland boss Martin O’Neill has ruled himself out of the running for a return to┬áLeicester.

The Foxes are without a manager after sacking Claudio Ranieri on Thursday, the man who oversaw their remarkable surge to the Premier League title last season.

Craig Shakespeare is in caretaker charge of the first team for Monday’s home league clash with Liverpool, but various names have been mentioned as possible candidates to come in as the Italian’s permanent successor.

Among them is O’Neill, who won the League Cup in 1997 and 2000 with Leicester.

But when asked about what would happen if Leicester were to contact him and gauge his interest in returning, the 64-year-old told BBC Radio 5 Live’s Sportsweek programme: “I wouldn’t be going.

“I’m enjoying the job here (with the Republic) at this moment and we have some big games ahead.”

O’Neill was then asked about the possibility of doing both jobs simultaneously.

“I hadn’t even thought about it,” he said.

 

READ MORE: Leicester’s brutal axe will be felt by all of football

 

“And if that were the case – not talking about myself, but in general if someone were taking time to do two jobs at the same time – I think there would be problems if you didn’t get the results on both sides.”

Nigel Pearson, who Ranieri replaced in the summer of 2015, has been linked with a shock return to the post, while Roberto Mancini and Guus Hiddink have also been mentioned.

It has also been reported that a meeting between Leicester’s owners and several players led to Ranieri’s sacking – although goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel and striker Jamie Vardy have denied those suggestions.

Meanwhile, the Foxes slipped into the relegation zone on Saturday as Crystal Palace moved out with a victory over Middlesbrough.

O’Neill believes Ranieri’s title success had earned him the “right” to keep his job to the end of the season at least.

“With the exploits there last year under him, he had the right in my opinion to see it through this season,” he said.

“It is not as if there are three games left and they are adrift – a couple of wins will take them out of trouble. So I think it was a really sad day.

“Leicester won the Premier League last year by quite a number of points, a phenomenal achievement that will not be done again in Premier League history.

“The players took an awful lot of credit for that and in many aspects, Ranieri dropped into the background.

“It is only two months ago that I voted for him for the FIFA manager of the year.

“I know that there is pressure on, that clubs have to win football matches, how important it is financially to stay in the Premier League.

“But Leicester, while in trouble, were not the only team losing matches.”

He added: “The owners have the ultimate say, but I think this was a combination of things – it has been mentioned that some players went to the owners to talk about whatever.

“But why should players go to the owner, even in this day and age? If things are not going well, I think you try and sort that out in the dressing room.

“While the players took an awful lot of credit last year – and rightly so – somewhere along the way you have to take a little bit of criticism.”

Asked if players were getting harder to control, O’Neill said: “I think there is something in this, and it is obviously to do with the money.

“I played in the days when players had no power. You could walk in one day and find out you were being transferred and had very little say in it, and that was the way it was.

“Players should have had more power in those days, but now it’s gone completely in the other direction and the players are really powerful – including a lot of ordinary players.”

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