If Ireland do not qualify for Euro 2016, O’Neill must pay the price

Martin O'Neill with Roy Keane - Photo credit: Irish Defence Forces (Flickr)
Martin O'Neill with Roy Keane - Photo credit: Irish Defence Forces (Flickr)
Martin O'Neill with Roy Keane - Photo credit: Irish Defence Forces (Flickr)
Irish manager Martin O’Neill with his assistant Roy Keane – Photo credit: Irish Defence Forces (Flickr)

MARTIN O’NEILL fights on.

From the elation of Lansdowne Road last Thursday to the anti-climax of the 2-1 defeat to Poland last weekend.

On Sunday, Ireland will discover who they will face in the play-offs next month.

Ukraine, Sweden, Bosnia and Hungary are the potential opponents.

Luckily for O’Neill, Ireland managed to avoid Croatia and Turkey, both of whom would have disposed of the Boys in Green with ease.

But the question will loom if Ireland do not qualify – Should Martin O’Neill be offered a new contract?

The 63-year-old looks set to sign one and as it was revealed last week by the Irish SunSport, he was offered it before the famous win against the Germans.

There is no doubt O’Neill has a brilliant CV.

He led Celtic to a UEFA Cup final as well as impressing with the Scots in the Champions League.

He has managed three top flight clubs in England, winning the League Cup twice with Leicester City.

And that was the CV he was hired on.

The FAI expected no less than Euro 2016 qualification when they hired O’Neill and Roy Keane as his assistant.

Nothing highlights that initial mentality more than the words of FAI Chief executive John Delaney when asked about Ireland’s chances of qualification.

He said: “I’ve got to be confident.

“We didn’t appoint Martin O’Neill and Roy just to make up the numbers.

“The Irish public expect us to qualify and the rules have changed so that there’s 24 teams going to the Euros instead of 16.

“It’s a difficult group with the world champions Germany in there, along with Scotland and Poland.

“But on our chances out of 10, you’ve got to say eight.

“We’re second seeds in the group and we’re favourites on the books to go through. The odds are in our favour.”

Delaney set the bar and nothing less should be accepted.

Last Thursday was Irish sporting history as Shane Long rattled the back of the net against Germany.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vHuoBTETwd8

The Irish troops managed to hold on for the remaining twenty minutes.

But overall, there have been few memorable moments in O’Neill’s reign.

The last gasp equaliser from John O’Shea in the 1-1 draw in away to the World Champions was one.

While first-half against Scotland in June at the Aviva was Ireland’s best spell against our rivals at the time for third place in Group D over two games.

But undoubtedly, beating Germany just fourteen months after being crowned as World Champions was the highlight.

But is that enough? Is that worth €1.3 million per annum?

I’m not so sure.

The FAI made it clear of what they expected from O’Neill and Keane.

And at the end of it all if we find ourselves asking ‘what has gone wrong?’, the FAI must stick by their guns and sack O’Neill.

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