In what is turning out to be an extraordinary spat between managers, Republic of Ireland manager Martin O’Neill has responded to Everton boss Ronald Koeman’s statement from earlier today with comments of his own.
The Dutchman had accused the Irish of playing a half-fit James McCarthy in his pre-Merseyside Derby press conference (click on the link below to read the entirety of Koeman’s prepared statement).
31st Mar 2017
Statement from Martin O'Neill
Once again the Everton manager, master tactician of the blame game, has struck out in his comments today, criticising both myself and James McCarthy.
Perhaps a review of Everton's pre-season programme might provide some enlightenment.
James had a magnificent tournament for the Republic of Ireland last summer during UEFA EURO 2016, playing his last game in very late June. He then returned to Everton after a very short break, but only 11 days later, he played his first of three games, all within an eight-day period, against Real Betis, Manchester United and Espanyol. Overloading?
It should be added that James last played for his country on the October 9, 2016 - almost half a year ago. Since that time he has been totally under Everton's supervision.
James is diligent and conscientious in his professional preparation.
Perhaps, in this instance, quiet introspection may serve the Everton manager and his medical staff better.
O’Neill comments on McCarthy are an outright lie, considering this was the player’s usage over the summer -
- Ireland got knocked out of Euros on June 26
- McCarthy first played against Betis on July 30, 60 minutes in that one
- 65 minutes on August 3 against United
- 27 minutes off the bench against Espanyol on August 6
Koeman had made it very clear that Everton’s medical staff had told the Ireland medics that McCarthy was not ready to play last week, yet O’Neill insisted on calling him up and then inserting him into the starting lineup.
O’Neill, no saint in his time in the Premier League with Aston Villa, does come off as extremely petty in this squabble. The greatest irony is that the Irishman was involved in a similar disagreement at that time with then England manager Fabio Capello too.
The next international break is not for another five months, so it remains to be seen if this simmering cauldron eventually quietens down or there’s more to be said.