Michael O’Neill to consider future as Northern Ireland boss after World Cup heartbreak

Jack Pitt-Brooke
Michael O’Neill to consider future as Northern Ireland boss after World Cup heartbreak

Michael O’Neill will consider his Northern Ireland future after the painful end to their World Cup qualification campaign.

The Northern Ireland manager has dramatically overachieved in the role he took over in 2011, guiding his team to Euro 2016 and then to a play-off to reach the 2018 World Cup, which they lost on Sunday night.

O’Neill is still contracted with the Irish Football Association for another two and a half years, until 2020, but is likely to have lucrative offers to leave the Northern Ireland job next year.

The Scotland job will be open, following Gordon Strachan’s recent departure, and the SFA would love someone to transform their fortunes as O’Neill has done with Northern Ireland. Similarly, Rangers are looking for a new permanent manager following the dismissal of Pedro Caixinha.

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O’Neill has worked in Scotland in the past, playing most notably for Dundee United and Hibernian and then coaching Brechin City at the start of his managerial career. He has been linked with other jobs in Scotland in the recent past.

“I know it’s a difficult time to make decisions about going forward,” O’Neill said in the aftermath of Sunday’s defeat. “Aaron Hughes and Gareth McAuley are 37, 38, these players have had long established Northern Ireland careers. They’ve got time to make that decision and we don’t play a European qualifier until next March, so there is a lot of time for consideration of that. For now, it is not a decision and I am not thinking any further ahead than being with the players.”

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