O’neill.. oh no!

North­ern Ire­land man­ager set to quit and take over strug­glers Stoke

Daily Mirror (Northern Ireland) - - FRONT PAGE - BY GARETH FULLERTON

NORTH­ERN Ire­land man­ager Michael O’neill is to stand down af­ter it emerged yes­ter­day he will join strug­glers Stoke City.

The 50-year-old, who guided the Green and White Army to Euro 2016 in France, will see out the last two qual­i­fy­ing matches for Euro 2020.

He is poised to seal his move to the Cham­pi­onship side to­day and nearly dou­ble his £750,000 IFA salary.

Sup­port­ers chief Gary Mcal­lis­ter said: “We will be sorry to see Michael go be­cause he has been such a suc­cess­ful man­ager but I also think we would wish him well if he does leave for Stoke.”

NORTH­ERN Ire­land fans wished Michael O’neill well yes­ter­day af­ter news broke of his im­mi­nent de­par­ture to Stoke City.

The 50-year-old is ex­pected to be con­firmed as the Pot­ters’ new man­ager to­day in a lu­cra­tive fouryear deal.

It will see him al­most dou­ble his £750,000 salary with the Ir­ish FA.

Stoke are cur­rently lan­guish­ing at the bot­tom of the Cham­pi­onship, hav­ing picked up just two wins from their open­ing 15 games this sea­son.

They will be hop­ing O’neill can trans­form their for­tunes, just like he did for North­ern

Ire­land over the past eight years.

Dur­ing his reign the coun­try qual­i­fied for our first ever Euro­pean Cham­pi­onships and nar­rowly missed out on reach­ing last year’s World Cup in

Rus­sia af­ter los­ing a play­off against the

Swiss.

Chair­man of the Amal­ga­ma­tion of Of­fi­cial North­ern Ire­land

Sup­port­ers’ Club, Gary

Mcal­lis­ter said: “I think there will be mixed emo­tions from fans.

“We will be sorry to see Michael go be­cause he has been such a suc­cess­ful man­ager but I also think we would wish him well if he does leave for Stoke.

“When Michael ar­rived, the first cam­paign didn’t go that well and there were some dis­ap­point­ing re­sults but we could see what he was try­ing to im­ple­ment.

“He re­stored be­lief in the play­ers and the fans and the high­light was un­doubt­edly reach­ing the Euros. The buzz that cre­ated in North­ern Ire­land and the pride it in­stilled into the whole coun­try was in­cred­i­ble.

“And the win over Ukraine in Lyon was our Gerry Arm­strong mo­ment. That was def­i­nitely the pin­na­cle of that ex­pe­ri­ence.”

O’neill will rub­ber­stamp his Stoke move to­day and is then ex­pected to re­turn to Belfast to take charge of North­ern Ire­land’s fi­nal two Euro 2020 qual­i­fiers against Hol­land and Ger­many.

They host the Dutch at Wind­sor Park on Novem­ber

16 in what prom­ises to be an emo­tion­ally charged night, and com­plete their cam­paign three days later in Frank­furt.

Mr Mcal­lis­ter said: “The Hol­land game is mas­sive as it is, the at­mos­phere will be elec­tric. But it will def­i­nitely be ramped up a notch or two if Michael is bow­ing out.

“They are two mas­sive games against two foot­balling gi­ants. If they turn out to be Michael’s two fi­nal games then hope­fully we can get two pos­i­tive re­sults.”

Who­ever fol­lows O’neill into the North­ern Ire­land hot­seat will have big shoes to fill.

One of the early fron­trun­ners is Mother­well boss Stephen Robin­son while cur­rent Un­der 21 man­ager Ian Bar­a­clough is also be­ing linked with the job.

The Hol­land game is mas­sive as it is but at­mos­phere will be ramped up if he’s bow­ing out GARY MCAL­LIS­TER LAST NIGHT

FI­NAL WHISTLE Michael O’neill led team to Euro 2016

YOU ARE MY DAVIS Boss with team’s cap­tain Steven TIME FOR CHANGE Michael O’neill will be­come Stoke man­ager HAVE A LAFF With striker Kyle in 2015 HERE OUI GO Team qual­i­fied for the Euros JOY Cel­e­brat­ing Niall Mcginn’s Ukraine goal YOU RAISE ME UP Team cel­e­brate with man­ager UNITED Team failed to qual­ify for World Cup

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