Cardiff City cool over Martin O'Neill managerial link

Martin O'Neill
O'Neill has been out of work since leaving Villa in the summer of 2010

Cardiff City chief executive Gethin Jenkins has distanced the club from the possibility of Martin O'Neill becoming Dave Jones's successor as manager.

Ex-Aston Villa and Celtic boss O'Neill has emerged as the favourite to replace Jones, who was sacked on Monday.

"Martin O'Neill would be on the list of any club," said Jenkins. "Whether his financial requirements and ours are the same, we'll have to wait and see."

Jenkins also ruled out Craig Bellamy taking up a player/coaching role.

Jones was the Championship's longest-serving manager - and sixth longest-serving in the Football League - until the Cardiff board ended his six-year reign as Bluebirds boss.

The 54-year-old was sacked after the Cardiff directors and their Malaysian investors undertook a "fundamental review" of the season, which ended with defeat by Reading in the semi-finals of the Championship play-offs.

During his reign, Jones guided the club, with an estimated £30m debt, to the 2008 FA Cup final, the 2009 Championship play-off final external-linkand managed to bring an element of stability during the club's years of financial turmoil.

His time in charge was often punctuated by off-field turmoil as Cardiff faced winding-up orders, transfer embargoes and boardroom power-shifts.

But he was fired in the wake of the Cardiff's failure to secure Premier League promotion, despite the club being in the top two for much of the campaign and with a squad he acknowledged was the finest of his Cardiff tenure.

O'Neill, former England manager Steve McClaren, ex-West Bromwich Albion manager Roberto Di Matteo and former Newcastle boss Chris Hughton are among the bookies' favourites for the Cardiff vacancy and are all out of work.

Nottingham Forest manager Billy Davies and hometown hero Bellamy are also short odds with bookmakers.

Jenkins confirmed Cardiff made a list of desired candidates after Jones's departure was announced, and the board hope to begin the interview process soon after sifting through the flurry of early applicants.

"I understand Martin O'Neill is one of the favourites," Jenkins told BBC Sport.

"But we have our options and we'll start meeting people over the next few days."

He added: "Dave's contribution has been fantastic over the last six years.

"It is a tribute to him that now it is deemed failure or disappointment that finishing fourth in the Championship is not deemed good enough.

"We have several options on the list. We will see who is available and who is out there.

"We have a list of preferred candidates and the phone didn't stop ringing yesterday [Monday] with people pushing their clients forward so we will have a look at it and try to make a few interviews in the next few days.

"We have sat down with the Malaysian investors over the weekend and had very constructive talks. They are willing to support and there is a budget available."

The next Cardiff manager will need to rebuild the Bluebirds squad as 12 players have left by either returning from loan spells at the Cardiff City Stadium or have been released.

Manchester City striker Bellamy, who scored 11 goals on a season-long loan at his hometown club last season, has also been suggested as a possible replacement for Jones.

The 31-year-old has no previous coaching experience and has no coaching qualifications. Jenkins revealed Bellamy may return to south Wales but not in a coaching capacity.

"Craig has indicated he will like to play again for Cardiff next season and if that happens it will be fantastic," he said.

"We have had an initial conversation with his agent and said we remain open to offers.

"We will sit down and have a chat with Manchester City and his agent once we have a manager in place."

Asked if Bellamy could become a Cardiff player/coach, Jenkins replied: "I don't think it is likely at the minute.

"We'd love to have Craig back as a player but we'll see what happens."

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