Leaving before these two games was not an option.
“That would not have been the right thing to do and I was clear with Stoke about that from the start.”
While taking the NI side for the Dutch and German games was always O’Neill’s intention, he revealed it was the Irish FA that requested he remains in charge for any potential playoff matches in March.
During the negotiations it then became clear that there was a possibility of me taking the playoff – I think the IFA requested that,” continued O’Neill, who won his first game in charge of Stoke against Barnsley last week.
The reality of the situation is that I will have five months of club football behind me before I take that game. The playoff will be a quick turnaround – it’s a Thursday game which will mean three days of preparation.
I have proved that I am quite adept at doing that, and it would have been very difficult for a new manager to go straight into a playoff scenario.
Hopefully if that situation does arrive, and we don’t qualify through these next two games, then we will be in a healthy position and ready to give it our best in March to qualify.”