Hibs said yesterday that a short-list for the job has been drawn up, and caretaker manager Billy Brown revealed he has been interviewed, but it appears Hibs are in no rush to make contact with former player O’Neill, who would be a popular choice among supporters.
Bohemians manager Pat Fenlon is also reported to have been interviewed.
O’Neill, whose contract with Shamrock Rovers is about to run out, had been expected to be on the shortlist to take over from Colin Calderwood as Hibs manager. A statement on the Hibs website yesterday said that candidates had been identified and implied that some interviews were still to take place, but it now appears that time is running out for O’Neill.
“If there is interest then I would expect the Hibs board to be in touch with Shamrock Rovers to say they are interested in speaking to me and to find out about my situation,” O’Neill said last night. “As yet that hasn’t happened.
“I am busy preparing for a friendly against Malmo in Sweden next week and then I take the team off to play in Kazan [against Rubin Kazan in the Europa League] the following week. That’s my focus at the moment. I am a manager who is currently in contract. It is a different situation to a currently unemployed manager.”
It is understood that if offered the job O’Neill would be happy to work with Brown, who spent a couple of months as assistant manager to Calderwood before stepping in as caretaker last week. Brown, however, refused to be drawn yesterday on the circumstances in which he would want to stay at Easter Road if he did not get the top job.
Yesterday’s statement from Hibs is expected to be the club’s last word on the matter until early next week. “Hibernian today advised supporters that significant progress had been made regarding the recruitment of a new manager,” it read.
“The board has been delighted with the calibre of applicant and the level of interest in the position.
“Over 90 applications for the post have been received, which have now been shortlisted for interview and further diligence work. The club is continuing to take a wide circle of counsel and reference on the candidates from senior figures within the game.
“No further announcements or updates on the next stage of the process will be made before the game on Saturday versus Kilmarnock to allow Billy Brown and the players the opportunity to focus on this vital home fixture.”
• Bookmakers McBookie make Pat Fenlon the 4-9 favourite to get the manager’s job at Hibernian after the surge of money placed on him earlier this week, with Michael O’Neill second favourite at 7-4. Other odds offered are Danny lennon 9-4, Billy Brown 9-1, Terry Butcher 12-1, Jim Jefferies and Paul Sturrock at 16-1.