'Daft' James McClean has learned his lesson says O'Neill

MARTIN O’Neill last night described James McClean as “daft” as the Sunderland manager insisted his player had at long last learned his lesson after his latest Twitter controversy.

James McClean
James McClean

MARTIN O’Neill last night described James McClean as “daft” as the Sunderland manager insisted his player had at long last learned his lesson after his latest Twitter controversy.

The two men had a phone chat late on Tuesday night to discuss the winger’s decision to tweet his apparent embarrassment and anger over the Republic of Ireland’s 2-1 away win against Kazakhstan last Friday night.

McClean (pictured left) tweeted moments after the match regarding his unhappiness about not getting on the pitch during the game, which the Republic only won courtesy of two goals in the final minutes of the World Cup qualifier.

The Derry-born 23-year-old had previously found himself in trouble when, on the same social network site, he argued with fans of Northern Ireland who were angry that he opted to play for Republic.

O’Neill is delighted McClean has closed down his account for a second time – and this time for good you would imagine – and hoped that his player, who he enjoys a good relationship with, is smart enough not to repeat his mistake again.

The Sunderland boss said: “I got one call from James on Tuesday night. Thankfully he hadn’t tweeted anybody. The best thing you can say is that he is learning. Or is he? It was kind of daft really.

“Because he’s played a couple of games, perhaps he thinks he should be playing in the side. But it’s a manager’s (ie Giovanni Trapattoni’s) prerogative to pick who he wants and he had left out another couple of players at the time.

“I think you just have to go along with it.

“Hopefully, James will learn. Somewhere along the way, he has to get into his head that the whole tweeting thing is public now. It’s not as if he’s talking to a couple of friends in private. He’s speaking out publicly.

“He should realise that now because he’s tweeted a number of things over a period of time that has got everybody up in arms.

“The only person who doesn’t seem to be upset about it is himself.

“I think he has to learn. He wouldn’t be the first player to be disappointed to be left out of a team. But whether he thinks he should be playing or not, he has to come back and concentrate on club form at the moment.

“The manager there has a job to do and he will pick whatever he considers to be the best side. Eventually, they won the game. They scrambled a win, which was great, so his selection was justified.”

O’Neill made the point that it wasn’t so long ago that McClean was a mere reserve-team player and life as an international footballer, even one sitting on the substitute’s bench, was some way from his reality.

McClean did feature and play well in Ireland’s 4-1 friendly against Oman at Fulham on Tuesday, but he is still a relative rookie.

O’Neill said: “James is a good player, a strong lad, but he has to think about things. This time last year, he wasn’t in consideration for anything. It’s been a great rise and now he just has to settle down, which I think he will do.

“If it happens to you once, there’s an excuse. If it happens to you twice, you have to consider it. If it’s a third time around, then you’ve really got to ask yourself a few questions.

“He’s stopped the tweeting now, although we don’t know for how long. We are hoping seven years!”

Winger Adam Johnson should be fit for the visit of Liverpool on Saturday, Sunderland’s first home game of the season, after training for the last couple of days.

O’Neill added: “This is a great game for us to start the season now. Reading would have been as well, but the pitch was waterlogged and we are left with our first home fixture in the middle of September.

“It’s a big game for us, Liverpool. It can’t come much bigger than that. I’m sure the crowd will be up for the game.”

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