Sunday 20 January 2019

O'Neill should ignore Koeman tirades

No profit for Ireland manager in a public fight with Everton over James McCarthy

Everton manager Ronald Koeman
Everton manager Ronald Koeman

Martin O'Neill should ignore Ronald Koeman. He certainly shouldn't meet him to talk about James McCarthy. There's no profit in that.

Koeman lost the run of himself a few weeks ago when he used ridiculously overblown language to describe a bit of tiredness. He's at it again today.

I can understand why he is complaining. He's a club manager and club bosses always moan about international football.

It's annoying and this is a particularly stark case but I don't think O'Neill should waste any of his time dealing with it. He had his say and that should be enough.

There are rules in place to deal with this and they should be a strong enough rebuttal of anything Koeman wants to say.

Does he have a point lashing O'Neill and Ireland for pushing McCarthy too hard?

Not at all and the proof of that is, as O'Neill said, in the fact that he trained and played for Everton when he got back from Ireland's World Cup double-header.

What makes this an unusual intercession by a club manager is the language being used and the fact that the FAI and Ireland managers have had problems with Everton for a number of years now.


To be honest, I think that this is coincidence.

I don't think that Koeman is following a club policy to make life difficult for Ireland team managers.

Actually, I like Koeman. He cuts an impressive figure as he did a fine job to improve Southampton after Mauricio Pochettino's very successful spell with the club.

In fact, when I saw him move to Everton, I was very pleased because I thought he would have a positive impact on the Irish players at Goodison Park, particularly McCarthy.

My logic was simple enough. Koeman transformed Shane Long in a short space of time and turned him into the striker we all thought he could be.

He changed Long's attitude fundamentally and helped him develop the mental strength you need to function as a striker in the Premier League.

To me, it is no coincidence that Long's fortunes went into reverse again as soon as Koeman left.

Funnily enough, when Koeman dropped McCarthy after a few games of the season and sent a very clear message to him that he wanted more from him, I wasn't unhappy.

Koeman is obviously a hard nut and it seemed to me that he was laying it on the line for McCarthy.

Like the rest of us, I'm sure he sees the ability resting in McCarthy and as far as I was concerned, if Koeman was wielding the stick rather than the carrot to try and release the lad's potential, that was a good thing.

It's an 'all or nothing' kind of approach which works with some players but not with others.

Certainly, no other type of approach to McCarthy has worked.

Roberto Martinez tried to cajole and give him time to develop. Giovanni Trapattoni was frustrated and wanted more from him. We all want more from him.

Now, he has Koeman, O'Neill and Roy Keane looking after him for club and country and again, all three want more from him which he doesn't seem minded to give.

It's an enduring enigma because in almost every game I see him play, I see moments which catch your breath and prove that he has the talent and the football brain to be a top-class midfielder, making and directing the play around him.

All of the managers he has worked with know what I'm talking about. All of them would understand if I sat them in front of a video and pointed out the things McCarthy does wrong.

I have no doubt at all that O'Neill and Keane believe that he can do more. They have said as much.

So for me, Koeman was the man who might just be able to do what no other manager has done to date and bring the best out of McCarthy.

He won't hang around. I think Koeman is a man who will not indulge any player and if he believes that McCarthy is not performing as well as he can, he will move on quickly.

In other words, Everton won't be an issue for O'Neill as far as McCarthy is concerned because Koeman will ship him out.

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