It seems the norm that no international window goes by without a public spat between Ronald Koeman and Martin O’Neill.
The duo have had ongoing disputes over the international selections of players not deemed to be fit by the Merseyside club, namely James McCarthy. The midfielder, who has rarely featured this season due to injury, misses out on O’Neill’s latest squad with a recurring hamstring problem.
O’Neill had named McCarthy in squads throughout the season despite the 26-year-old’s unavailability or lack of game time. Just before the crunch tie against Wales in Dublin, McCarthy was astonishingly named in the starting eleven despite having missed a string of matches domestically.
However, McCarthy was deemed unavailable during the warm-up and was replaced by Hull’s David Meyler at the last minute. In the same game fellow Evertonian Seamus Coleman suffered his horrific double leg break, which only added to Koeman’s frustration with Ireland boss O’Neill.
In his latest rant directed towards the former Celtic and Aston Villa boss, Koeman vented his anger at Ireland’s dealings with his players and how they should take a leaf out of Roberto Martinez’s book.
“It was a final decision against the (advice of the) medical staff of Ireland and also against the medical staff of Everton,” he told the Irish Daily Mirror (via RTÉ Sport).
“And there are two people responsible for that.
“One is the player by himself. Finally, if he says, ‘Yes. I’m fit’, okay, but even the player needs protection from the manager and, once again, they didn’t give that protection to the player.”
Koeman then commended Martinez who he replaced at Everton following the Spaniard’s decision to rest some of Belgium’s Everton contingent, before again launching a dig at the FAI.
“I was pleased by Martinez that, one, Kevin Mirallas was starting (in the friendly in Russia) and, second, that Romelu was not starting.
“That’s good for us, because he played for 95 minutes in the qualification game against Greece.
“You like people to understand… not like Ireland.”
O’Neill had his own say on the situation prior to Koeman’s comment, claiming that the appropriate actions had been taken in the lead up to the Welsh clash.
“James wanted to play and he was fit to play,” said O’Neill.
“Let’s put a couple of things to bed. He didn’t train the first day, which was nearly understandable. He trained the last couple of days, but he over-stretched in the warm up, felt something, and I didn’t want to take the risk. We were guided by James.
“If you look, he wasn’t been with us now for a long, long time. What he does at club level is something that’s outside our jurisdiction and outside our control.
“I think that’s something he would have to look at, if it is a hamstring problem that he’s continually having, that’s got to be addressed by him and his club more than anything else. We’re trying to pick up the bits of this here, but it’s not a fight.”
There are currently no Everton players in the squad for the trip to New Jersey. Aiden McGeady is expected to join up with the team for the clash with Uruguay but the Scotland-born winger is expected to leave Goodison Park in the summer.
With Coleman and McCarthy both ruled out through injury, it seems that regardless of the outcome of this round of back and forth, Koeman and O’Neill will continue their war of words.
Nick Menezes, Pundit Arena