Stoke City’s search for a new manager is set to come to an end on Friday, with various reports suggesting that Martin O’Neill will miss out on the role.
The Ireland manager had been among the frontrunners for the vacant position at the Bet365 Stadium, but late contender Quique Sanchez Flores was installed as favourite over the course of a confusing 24-hour period on Thursday.
Both managers met with Stoke officials this week, but the Espanyol manager was offered the job – and as of Firday morning, it seems very likely that the Spaniard will take the Premier League side up on their offer of a five-year deal.
I understand Quique Sanchez Flores is expected to take the job at Stoke City.
— Matt Sandoz (@mattsandoz1) January 12, 2018
In news that further backs up that theory, it has been confirmed that O’Neill, assistant manager Roy Keane and the other members of the Ireland coaching staff will be in Dublin on Friday night to attend the Soccer Writers Association of Ireland’s annual awards night – which suggests that the Irish boss isn’t planning to be in the visiting dugout for Stoke’s match at Old Trafford on Monday night.
News that Martin O’Neill, Keane and the rest of the backroom staff will be at the Soccer Writers’ annual bash in Dublin this evening generally being taken by the membership as sign he is staying on. He hadn’t been expected to attend until this morning.
— emmet malone (@emmetmalone) January 12, 2018
If and when the news is confirmed that O’Neill is still indeed the Ireland manager, the immediate priority must surely be to officially finalise the terms of the 65-year-old’s new contract that was verbally agreed upon more than three months ago.