Martin O'Neill tears into Ronald Koeman in official FAI statement about James McCarthy's fitness
What started as sniping remarks and barbed comments between Everton manager Ronald Koeman and Ireland boss Martin O'Neill has escalated to an all-out war.
The Premier League club has clashed often with the Republic of Ireland's coaching and medical staff in recent years over the fitness of their players going into, and returning from, international breaks.
Whether it was Koeman or previous Everton boss Roberto Martinez, the relationship between the two sides was strained, to say the least. All of that came to a head when Everton accused O'Neill or putting the health and safety of midfielder James McCarthy in jeopardy.
Koeman went so far as to claim O'Neill had urged McCarthy to play against the medical advice of Ireland's own medical staff. All of this was after McCarthy actually missed the game, against Wales, having initially being named in the starting XI.
In response to Koeman's comments, O'Neill released this explosive statement via the Football Association of Ireland:
'Once again the Everton manager, master tactician of the blame game, has struck out in his comments today, criticising both myself and James McCarthy.
'Perhaps a review of Everton's pre-season programme might provide some enlightenment.
'James had a magnificent tournament for the Republic of Ireland last summer during Euro 2016, playing his last game in very late June. He then returned to Everton after a very short break, but only 11 days later, he played his first of three games, all within an eight-day period, against Real Betis, Manchester United and Espanyol. Overloading?
'It should be added that James last played for his country on the October 9, 2016 - almost half a year ago. Since that time he has been totally under Everton's supervision.
'James is diligent and conscientious in his professional preparation.
'Perhaps, in this instance, quiet introspection may serve the Everton manager and his medical staff better.'
Hold on tight as this one is not over yet...
UPDATE: Late on Friday night, Ronald Koeman hit back at O'Neill with this fairly snarky response.
James McCarthy began his pre-season three and a half weeks after Ireland were knocked out of the Euros. From the master tactician
— Ronald Koeman (@RonaldKoeman) March 31, 2017