Stoke manager target confirms he will stay at Espanyol

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger

"I think Stoke City fans would see Martin O'Neill as a pragmatic appointment, I wouldn't say it would generate too much excitement, but fans would ultimately get behind him".

The club were willing to pay £1.7million to release No 1 target Gary Rowett from his contract with Derby, but the former Birmingham manager instead signed a new deal with the high-flying Championship side.

"I'm well and quite happy with my situation", the 52-year-old Spaniard added. He said, "I'm here and at no point have I said the opposite".

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There had seemed to be real progress with the club ready to unveil him, however this morning it's emerged he's now turned down an offer.

"Football brings these types of situations". It happens constantly with the players.

Sources have told Telegraph Sport that this has actually hardened Stoke's interest, as they did not want to miss out on chairman Peter Coates' first choice to replace Hughes, and they feel O'Neill's vast experience of managing in the Premier League means he is the best person to turn their season around.

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"Here I have all I need".

The Potters sacked Mark Hughes last weekend after getting knocked out by Coventry City in the third round of the FA Cup and appointed Eddie Niedzwiecki as the caretaker of the club until a permanent manager is introduced.

"I have nothing else to add, only that I have to focus on the next LaLiga match".

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They had hoped to announce the hire on Friday but negotiations dragged on, meaning he is likely to watch Monday night's game with Manchester United from the stands rather than the touchline.

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