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