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Martin O'Neill: 'This Is The Weakest Rangers Side I Have Ever, Ever Known'

Martin O'Neill: 'This Is The Weakest Rangers Side I Have Ever, Ever Known'
By Gavin Cooney
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Martin O'Neill is going back to Celtic soon: he takes a Republic of Ireland XI to Parkhead for Scott Brown's testimonial on May 20th. As to what the Irish squad will look like, O'Neill is unsure, and is contingent on players being back from holidays and uninvolved in playoff games with their clubs.

First of all, I’m going to have some players that are going to be involved in play-offs. Secondly, when we were organising the international matches at the end of the season, the players always know that there will be matches.

Some of the Premier League players might be looking for a little family holiday before we met up. The Scott Brown game came a wee bit after some of the lads had organised things. In fairness, they’ve talked about maybe changing plans, but if they have made this little family holiday and that’s the only opportunity they get, because players come back rather quickly now for pre-season, then I would say I’ll allow one or two at that time.

It gives an opportunity for some younger players coming in to try and make their mark. That’s something I’m considering. It will probably be a wee bit more clear next week when I announce the squad.

That squad will be announced by O'Neill on May 10th, and the game in Glasgow is the first of a trilogy of end-of-season Irish games. Ireland travel to Paris to face France on May 28th, before ending the season against the USA in Dublin on June 2nd.


O'Neill still keeps half an eye trained on Scottish football, and is in no doubt as to the quality of the current Rangers squad. Celtic secured a seventh-straight league title with a 5-0 evisceration of their Old Firm rivals on Sunday, which has led to interim boss Graeme Murty leaving the club prematurely.

O'Neill called Rangers "dreadful" at a Q&A event yesterday, and speaking to Balls this afternoon, the Irish manager did not revise his views.


It’s probably worth reiterating and the lads asked me if I was having a joke there, but I do think that Rangers are desperately poor. I think if Celtic are going to improve in Europe, I believe they need a strong competitive Rangers to be with them.

That might sound anathema to some Celtic fans who are desperate to go 10 in a row, but I genuinely think this. Celtic are a million miles the best team in Scotland, and Rangers’ competition, as you seen in recent weeks both in the cup semi-final and last week, is desperately weak.

Let’s be fair about it, it is the weakest Rangers side I have ever, ever known and Celtic need them to be strong. A stronger and more competitive Rangers side would help Celtic in their quest for that extra stride in Europe.g

Steven Gerrard is the favourite to take the job next season, which would be his first senior job in management. In spite of the state of Rangers' squad, however, O'Neill believes that Gerrard should take the job.

I was asked this question. Why not? Absolutely why not. Why shouldn’t he? He knows pressure, he has lived with pressure and performed brilliantly under pressure as a player. I know playing and managing would be two totally different things, but it would be a massive lift for Rangers if someone of that ilk was coming to there.

If he is, I think Stevie would be well-aware that there might have to be a few promises kept and Rangers would have to improve the calibre of player, otherwise what’s the point?

I think if he was going there, Rangers would almost have to demand that they would have a better quality of player.

Martin O'Neill was speaking at the launch of the 2018 SportsDirect FAI Summer Soccer Schools. Bookings open now at www.summersoccerschools.ie 

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