Martin O'Neill turns down Stoke offer to become new manager

Martin O'Neill was unhappy with some of the criticism he received in the aftermath of the Denmark loss.                     Image Niall Carson

The 65-year-old is keen on a return to club management after just over four years with Republic of Ireland, while Stoke feel he has the experience and nous to save them from relegation.

The Irishman also has a good relationship with club chairman Peter Coates, but there is a view around the club that O'Neill would be a more short-term appointment to maintain their status, while Flores' style is more what they are looking for in the long term.

O'Neill - and the FAI - still have some awkward questions to answer however.

The news potentially opens the door for O'Neill to join the Premier League side, after he met club officials earlier in the week.

The uncertainty over O'Neill's position in recent days has been a source of embarrassment to Football Association of Ireland chiefs, who believed they had agreement from their manager and his assistant Roy Keane to continue in their roles, with this latest development a twist that leaves plenty of uncertainty lingering.

Ireland may have only friendlies scheduled until the Uefa Nations Cup kicks off in September, yet the financial risk of losing their Premier League status means the new manager's focus can not be distracted by extra-curricular activities.

Other loyal members of his coaching staff, including Steve Guppy, Steve Walford, and goalkeeping coach Seamus McDonagh, are also set to follow O'Neill from the Ireland camp into the new adventure.

"I know it's a few weeks after Christmas, but it was pantomime stuff from the FAI last week, it belonged on the stage".

Still, it would be a surprise if the manager didn't keep Delaney informed of yesterday's developments. "If I was Stoke City, I'd be clamouring to appoint him".

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