Former Ireland coach Steve Walford shocked by 'wrong' decision to sack Martin O'Neill

Steve Walford left the Ireland coaching set-up in September.

Former Ireland coach Steve Walford shocked by 'wrong' decision to sack Martin O'Neill

Former Ireland coach Steve Walford believes the FAI made a mistake by firing Martin O'Neill.

Walford left the Ireland coaching set-up in September for what O'Neill called "personal reasons".

However, the former assistant coach said he wasn't enjoying being away with the national team any more and had his arm twisted into signing a new contract after the World Cup qualifiers.

Now, he's less convinced that Ireland can qualify for Euro 2020 under new manager Mick McCarthy.

"[It was the] wrong [decision]. I was really shocked when Martin left," he told Talksport.

"I know the last ten games hasn't been great but there's been a lot of injuries to key players and the team have done the best they could, they always try their hardest.

"Ireland have never been a free-scoring nation. They never go and win games four, five or six-nils. Very rarely anyway, unless they're playing Gibraltar.

"Scoring goals has always been hard for Ireland and I was really shocked. I still expected Martin to qualify [for Euro 2020]. That's how much I think of him as a manager. I still think he would've got them out of that group. I'm not sure now [under McCarthy].

"They might think it's a step forward, I'm not so sure."

Walford, who's worked with O'Neill for 24 years since they first teamed up at Wycombe Wanderers, hasn't spoken to him since the news broke last week.

"By leaving when I did in September, I'm not sure if Martin was that happy with me. But I wasn't enjoying it so it was one thing or another and I just said, 'I can't do it no more'.

"The whole thing of being away, being in each other's company all the time, I didn't enjoy it. I enjoyed the football side of it but then you're stuck together all the time, no breaks.

"When they signed a new contract, I said to Martin, 'I don't want to sign it. I'm not enjoying it.' To be fair, he talked me into signing it but by September, I couldn't do it no more.

"He's going to be disappointed not being in charge of Ireland now because he enjoyed it."

Walford is now looking for his break in management, but says he would "without a doubt" work with O'Neill again in future.

"He's a top manager. To be fair, he should've had bigger jobs in the Premiership where he's a chance to win the thing, because he'd have won it. He'd definitely have won it with Liverpool.

"It's a shame because it might have passed him by now."

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