The frosty relationship between Everton manager Ronald Koeman and Republic of Ireland boss Martin O’Neill shows no sign of thawing.
The feud between the two started initially because of James McCarthy, and indeed the midfielder is once again at the centre of this latest war of words.
McCarthy, still recovering from a hamstring injury, was initially selected to start in Ireland’s World Cup qualifier against Wales last Friday, but an aggravation to said injury in the warm-up meant that he was replaced by Hull’s David Meyler at the last minute.
The 26-year-old was subsequently sent back to Everton before the friendly against Iceland on Tuesday, and Koeman is furious that Ireland firstly picked him even though he was not fully fit, and secondly sent him back in an even worse condition.
Speaking to the media ahead of Saturday’s Merseyside derby against Liverpool, Koeman could barely contain his annoyance at both O’Neill and McCarthy for this latest injury to the player on international duty:
“It was a final decision against the (advice of the) medical staff of Ireland and also against the medical staff of Everton.
“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.”
The ex-Southampton boss compared the situation to that at Belgium, where star striker Romelu Lukaku was rested for the midweek friendly against Russia after playing the full match against Greece days earlier:
“I was pleased by [Roberto] 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 has never paid much heed to what Koeman has had to say in the media so is unlikely to let these latest comments get to him; nonetheless, having been a club manager himself, the Ireland boss will undoubtedly feel Koeman’s frustration that an important player (two important players, in fact, with Seamus Coleman also returning injured) ahead of a massive match this weekend.
O’Neill had stated last week that he had attempted to get in contact with Koeman, and indicated his willingness to do so again.