IT LOOKS INCREASINGLY likely that Shamrock Rovers will soon be in the market for a new manager as speculation that Michael O’Neill is set to step down mounts – although the club are denying reports.
The 42-year-old former Brechin City boss led the Hoops to back-to-back Airtricity League Premier Division titles, the Setanta Cup and qualification to the Europa League group stages in what was a first for an Irish club.
But ahead of Tottenham Hotspurs’ visit to Tallaght Stadium on Thursday, Rovers captain Dan Murray has been reported as saying he was “surprised” after the manager told his players that contract discussions had broken down.
However, speaking to TheScore club chairman Jonathan Roche denied that Thursday’s match would be O’Neill’s last, saying:
“The situation hasn’t changed. We’re playing Tottenham this week and Michael is contracted up until 31 December.”
A fortnight ago, O’Neill claimed that he was focused on his responsibilities at the club but at the same time said being linked to the vacant Northern Ireland job was a “great honour”.
The IFA have yet to replace Nigel Worthington since he walked away from the job after the end of the Euro 2012 qualifying campaign back in October.
While it remains unclear whether he is being lined up as Worthington’s successor, O’Neill’s tenure at Rovers is likely to end this week as he embarks on a new challenge .
League One side Hartlepool United are the latest club he has been linked with but, having seen his stock rise over the past couple of years, it is believed that O’Neill would be seeking a position with a higher profile.