May 18, 2024

Former Aston Villa manager Martin O’Neill admits John Eustace has every right to be disappointed by the manner of his departure from Birmingham City

Martin O'Neill speaking during an interview with the Claret & Blue podcast
Martin O’Neill has had his say after Birmingham City switched managers

Martin O’Neill has sympathised with John Eustace after the manager was sacked by Birmingham City last week. Blues made the call to part with Eustace, who leaves the club sixth in the Championship following five wins from their first 11 games of the new season, including back to back home victories the week prior to his departure.

This week, Wayne Rooney is settling into his new surroundings at Blues’ training centre in Henley-in-Arden. The new Blues boss was installed days after Eustace was informed he was being relieved of his duties and he is gearing his new players up for his first game in charge, which takes place against old teammate Michael Carrick up at Middlesbrough this Saturday.

Former Villa boss O’Neill, who in his career has also taken charge of the likes of Leicester City, Sunderland, Nottingham Forest and Celtic, acknowledges Blues’ reasoning for the controversial change at the helm as they seek to raise the profile of the club further, but he says he wouldn’t blame Eustacefor being left angry and saddened by the manner of his departure.

O’Neill also suggests that the pressure is on Rooney immediately to bring success to St Andrew’s, having not only inherited the club in a favourable position but also taking into account the ambitions that have been outlined by the club hierarchy.

“I do agree with Simon [Jordan] on that, this is what Birmingham City are looking for,” O’Neill told talkSPORT. “John Eustace, let me take it from his viewpoint – he’s taken them to sixth in the league, Birmingham City have had monumental problems in the last couple of seasons, not least of all the ground which has hardly been fit for purpose.

“Yet John Eustace has done this job, where they’re sixth, they’re in a play-off position and suddenly he loses his job. If I was John Eustace, I’d be absolutely seething underneath. Then I think the CEO made some comment about John Eustace’s ambitions didn’t match ours – do you think he was going to come out and say that my job was just to keep the team in the league?

“I’m sure Eustace would be no different to any other manager. If you’re not in the big league, the team that you are managing is the team you want to get promotion with, regardless of what position you were in, so your dream would be the same thing. I’d be really surprised if John Eustace was saying ‘if we just avoid relegation, we’ll be okay’.

“He’ll have been fully aware of the expectation around the club, certainly now with new owners and things like this. From all the comments that are emanating from the football club, you’d have to say yeah [regarding Rooney needing to get Blues promoted], and it’s not to say that it’s a long-term project – it looks as though you have to go up this season.”

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