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O’Neill rules himself out of Leicester job and criticises player influence

Ranieri was sacked with Leicester a point above the relegation zone

Former Leicester City manager Martin O’Neill has ruled himself out of replacing Claudio Ranieri as Foxes’ boss and has criticised the influence of players in modern football.

Staff and players have denied there was a revolt against the Italian, who was sacked on Thursday.

O’Neill, 64, said that Premier League footballers are “really powerful”.

He told BBC Radio 5 live: “Even in this day and age, why should they go to the owners of the football club?”

BBC Sport understands some players were summoned to meet Leicester’s chairman after Wednesday’s 2-1 loss to Sevilla in the Champions League and Ranieri’s fate was sealed by the negative reaction.

Keeper Kasper Schmeichel and striker Jamie Vardy have denied trying to force the Italian’s exit, nine months after he won the Premier League title.

“I played in the days when players had no power, and while it wasn’t right we had no power at all, it has gone completely in the other direction,” said O’Neill, the current Republic of Ireland boss, on Sportsweek.

“The players are really powerful – including a lot of ordinary players.”

‘I won’t be going to Leicester’

O’Neill (pictured with Matt Elliott) lifted the EFL Cup with Leicester in 2000 and also 1997

O’Neill had a successful five years in charge of the Foxes between 1995 and 2000, taking the club to the Premier League and winning the EFL Cup twice.

But the former Aston Villa and Celtic manager has said he would rather commit to Ireland’s World Cup qualifying campaign than return to the Foxes.

“I am really enjoying being an international manager and we have a job to do,” he said.

“I wouldn’t be going. I am enjoying this at the moment.”

Player power or professional opinion? – Analysis

Former Arsenal and West Ham defender Matthew Upson on MOTD2 Extra

“We have to be very careful to distinguish between ‘knifing someone in the back’ and giving your professional opinion when asked.

“There comes a point where, as a player, you have to decide to either give your honest opinion or you stay out of it.

“These owners are very hands on and most people who own businesses want to know what’s happening inside the business. That’s normal. The owners are in touch with the players all the time.

“Kasper Schmeichel stated there wasn’t a meeting. Whether there was a conversation or not, I don’t know.”

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