Successful after dinner speaking takes a toll on the speaker. Demanding audiences and the heavy mixture of late night revelry, rich food and drink often conspire to conceal a speaker’s message. That’s bad enough for speakers who aren’t football managers. But there’s a difference. Football managers are used to hiding their meaning when that’s needed So this Martin O’Neill speech was such a case.
One such speaker is Aston Villa’s manager, Martin O’Neill, who spoke at the club’s end of season dinner on Wednesday night…but, with a match still to play it was clearly a bit early.
O’Neill didn’t speak to a full house. Both the club’s owner and chief executive were absent. Thus, it was their absence and the content of O’Neill’s speech that caused many of the 500 supporters present to sense that this speech was a valedictory note from their manager. Of particular note was the fulsome praise that O’Neill paid to his team members and club officials…not terribly suspicious in itself; but definitely a feature of a goodbye or farewell speech.
Responding to the question, “Are you staying Martin, or not?” O’Neill replied:
“All I can say is that Randy Lerner has no need to ring Mark Hughes.”
So, an enigmatic finale to a puzzling end of season after dinner speech.
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