Martin O'Neill addresses Ireland criticism and plans return to club football 1 year ago

Martin O'Neill addresses Ireland criticism and plans return to club football

Former Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill has defended the end of his time as Ireland manager and has revealed that he plans to return to club football.

O'Neill left his role as Ireland manager last month after five years with the national team that saw the side progress to the last 16 of Euro 2016.

Ireland were annihilated in their 2018 World Cup play-off against Denmark last year and won just one match from their next nine games following the defeat.

One of the big criticism leveled against O'Neill during his tenure with Ireland was that their was a lack of a gameplan and that players weren't familiar with what shape or how they were supposed to play within the system.

O'Neill refuted the theory in an interview with Luke Edwards in The Telegraph with the former Celtic manager pointing to Ireland's successes during his reign to highlight that his teams were engaged tactically.

"You know, there was some criticism in Ireland that I did not have a plan," O'Neill said.

"We qualified for the Euros and reached the knockout stage for the first time. In the history of the World Cup and the European Championships put together, Ireland have qualified six times for those tournaments. I've been one of them.

"As fourth seeds, we then got to the play-offs for the World Cup, where we were well beaten, it has to be said, but if a goal against Austria had not been incorrectly ruled out (earlier in the campaign) we would have gone to the World Cup as group winners.

"I don't think you could do that without a plan and strategy. You cannot do that without guile as a manager, tactics and a plan."

O'Neill, 66, began his career in football management with Grantham Town in 1987 and has managed eight different clubs since.

The Derry native is set to become a grandfather with his daughter Alana expecting her first child but O'Neill still very much believes he has a point to prove despite his previous successes.

"I genuinely think that you always have to have the mindset, that you have a point to prove," he added. "Until the last day of your existence, you have a point to prove.

"That has always been the case with me, right from when I started out as a player. To have had the career I've had, you have to have that.

"I still possess that strong self-belief, I will always back myself. I will back myself in whatever job I take next."