FOOTBALL: Lure of Leeds beckons O'Neill

LEEDS UNITED will use the tactics Tottenham Hotspur employed to prise away George Graham from Elland Road to appoint Martin O'Neill as his successor. The club made an approach to Leicester City to speak to O'Neill yesterday and although permission was not forthcoming, "no" will not be regarded as the definitive answer.

The Leeds chairman, Peter Ridsdale, last night vowed to emulate Spurs' Alan Sugar in capturing O'Neill and, as he revealed in Saturday's match programme (against Leicester), that involved four approaches after an initial rebuff.

"I am certainly not going to give up after one telephone call," Ridsdale said. "I spoke to Alan Sugar a number of times before the Graham situation was resolved. It may be that I end up doing something similar."

"I'm not downcast. I'm very pleased that we made a speedy resolution at board level and I'm pleased that it was unanimous. Now we target our man and I hope I'm as successful as Alan Sugar on two counts - firstly, he did it within the rules and secondly, he got his man, and that's what we intend to do."

Leeds did not say O'Neill, 46, was their choice but Filbert Street later revealed the news in a terse statement to the Stock Exchange. "Leicester City Football Club confirm they are the club approached by Leeds United in respect of their football manager, Martin O'Neill," it read. "The boards of Leicester City PLC and Leicester City Football Club are resolute in their refusal to allow Leeds United to speak to [him]."

However, O'Neill, who was last night in talks with the chairmen of Leicester City football club and its plc, John Elsom and Sir Rodney Walker, only has to say he wishes to see what Leeds have to offer - just as Graham did with Spurs - to set the wheels in motion.

His contract, which has two years to run, is understood to contain a clause guaranteeing his release on the payment of pounds 1m in compensation. That figure falls to around pounds 300,000 after 31 October, which may persuade Leicester to release him.

There have also been suggestions that O'Neill is less than happy at Filbert Street. Last summer he asked for financial commitments from the board in terms of buying players before turning down an offer from Everton, and on Saturday his comment that he felt he was "reasonably popular with the fans" did not convey an impression of perfect harmony.

"You can turn things down for so long but it gets to the point where people stop asking you," Casey Keller, Leicester's goalkeeper, said yesterday. "I don't want to speak for [O'Neill] but if Leeds ask him and the deal is right I assume he will go, and so do most of the players.

Leeds are hardly likely to be deterred by financial demands from either Leicester or O'Neill. Graham was reportedly the highest-paid manager in the Premiership at Elland Road, while they received around pounds 3m in compensation from Tottenham. The Leeds board, which has spent pounds 23m in just over two seasons, has also committed itself to providing the new manager with new funds to buy players.

Certainly Ridsdale's relaxed attitude yesterday suggested he was confident he would get O'Neill, probably before Leeds' next game, against Nottingham Forest on 17 October. "I will sit and reflect on the situation," he said. "That's exactly how Tottenham did it and I'm hoping the other club I am talking to will also sit and reflect. They know where I am if they change their position. They know where to reach me.

"I would very much like to get our man, but given that the person concerned is currently under contract, it's out of my hands. We're talking about a long-term appointment, we don't have to rush and we don't have to worry too much. We will see."

Ultimately, contract or no contract, it will depend on how much O'Neill wants to join Leeds. For the time being, David O'Leary and Eddie Gray remain in charge of first-team affairs although whether they will survive the new appointment is debatable.

O'Neill is almost certain to bring in the backroom staff who work with him at Leicester - John Robertson, Jim Melrose and Steve Walford - which would place both O'Leary's and Gray's positions under threat.

There is a vacancy as Graham's assistant at Tottenham, of course, and the post of manager at Filbert Street might also interest O'Leary should it become available.

The managerial merry-go-round keeps on turning.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Online Media Sales Trainee

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Now our rapidly expanding and A...

Recruitment Genius: Public House Manager / Management Couples

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about great ...

Recruitment Genius: Production Planner

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Recruitment Genius: General Factory Operatives

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee