‘O’Neill could bring glory days back for Blues’

Evening Times - - SPORT - By MATTHEW LIND­SAY

MICHAEL O’Neill is ca­pa­ble of res­ur­rect­ing the for­tunes of Rangers – and would con­sider a re­turn to club man­age­ment af­ter spend­ing the past six years in charge of North­ern Ire­land.

That was the pre­dic­tion of Sammy McIl­roy (inset), the Manch­ester United and North­ern Ire­land great, last night in the wake of his na­tional team’s Rus­sia 2018 play­off de­feat to Switzer­land.

O’Neill is one of the favourites to suc­ceed Gordon Stra­chan as Scot­land man­ager - but the odds on him be­ing ap­pointed at Ibrox have short­ened fol­low­ing his side’s 1-0 loss to Switzer­land over two legs last week.

The 48-year-old, who led his coun­try to the knock­out stages of the Euro 2016 fi­nals in France last sum­mer, was guarded about his fu­ture fol­low­ing the sec­ond leg in Basel on Sun­day evening.

How­ever, McIl­roy, who spent three sea­sons as North­ern Ire­land man­ager him­self, be­lieves his com­pa­triot, who pre­vi­ously man­aged Brechin City and Sham­rock Rovers, may now be tempted to go back into club foot­ball.

He be­lieves the for­mer Dundee United and Hiber­nian player, whose as­sis­tant is the for­mer Rangers de­fender Jimmy Ni­choll, would be able to re­build Rangers in the same way that he did with North­ern Ire­land if he was given time.

“There will be peo­ple out there in foot­ball look­ing at Michael O’Neill be­cause he has done so well with North­ern Ire­land,” he said.

“I must ad­mit, when I was North­ern Ire­land man­ager I did miss the day-to-day in­volve­ment. Michael has done the job for six years now. Does he want to go back in to dayto-day man­age­ment now? Only he can an­swer that.

“But I can al­ways re­mem­ber Arsene Wenger say­ing that man­agers should be tak­ing on the chal­lenge of in­ter­na­tional foot­ball when they are into their fifties. That makes a lot of sense to me.

“By that stage, you have ex­pe­ri­enced club man­age­ment and can go on as long as you want.

“Michael has done it a dif­fer­ent way. I think the Ever­ton job might be some­thing that would ap­peal to him. I am sure he can han­dle that now.

“The Rangers job is a mas­sive job. Sec­ond place isn’t good enough for Glas­gow Rangers. Rangers have got into such a state over the last few years. Who­ever takes over, the fans have to re­alise they have got a hu g e re­build­ing job. Celtic are the dom­i­nant force. “Michael would know he has one hell of a chal­lenge to try and turn Rangers around. The club and the sup­port­ers are go­ing to have to be pa­tient who­ever is go­ing to be the next man­ager

“But he could han­dle it. In terms of his or­gan­i­sa­tion, his com­mit­ment, his tem­per­a­ment, he could han­dle it. No prob­lem.”

McIl­roy added: “Michael has turned North­ern Ire­land into a club side in the last four years in terms of the team spirit they have.

“Glas­gow Rangers is a mas­sive chal­lenge. But Michael liv­ing over there in Scot­land will def­i­nitely know that.”

North­ern Ire­land man­ager Michael O’Neill saw his side fail to qual­ify for the World Cup this week

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.