Michael O’Neill considering future after talks with Scottish FA
The Northern Ireland manager is the number one choice to replace Gordon Strachan as Scotland boss.
Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill is reflecting on his future after talks with the Scottish Football Association, Press Association Sport understands.
The meeting was described as “productive” by a source close to the discussions and the 48-year-old impressed the SFA delegation.
But no timescale has been set over the next stage in the SFA’s pursuit of the former Brechin and Shamrock Rovers boss.
Both parties spoke at length about the vacant Scotland manager’s job and Scottish football in general, a subject the Edinburgh-based former Dundee United and Hibernian midfielder knows well, especially as several of his Northern Ireland squad play or have played there.
The SFA was granted permission by the Irish FA to open talks with O’Neill late last week after finally agreeing to meet the £500,000 compensation demand stipulated for international teams in the manager’s contract.
The deal has two years left to run but O’Neill has been offered a four-year extension by his employers which includes a major increase to his £500,000-a-year salary.
Motherwell manager Stephen Robinson – who assisted O’Neill during Euro 2016 and the successful qualifying campaign – is not surprised that the SFA is so keen on taking him to Hampden.
O’Neill only missed out on leading Northern Ireland to this summer’s World Cup finals in Russia after a play-off defeat to Switzerland.
Robinson said: “We probably only have four or five top-level players, so what he has achieved is phenomenal, it really is. Outside of Northern Ireland, I am not sure he gets the credit that he deserves.
“If I am sitting on an international board he is the first person I am going to look at. He has produced minor miracles for Northern Ireland.
“But I have to say I hope he doesn’t go. My whole family are mad Northern Ireland fans and they will be desperate for him to stay, as is everybody in Northern Ireland.
“But it is no surprise to me that Scotland have made him the number one target.”
If the SFA manages to persuade O’Neill to take over the national team, Robinson believes Scotland will be getting a boss who leaves “no stone unturned” in his quest for success.”His man-management skills are excellent with different levels of players from League Two to the Premier League,” the former Northern Ireland international said. “He knows how to deal with them all.
“He brings a country together, that gives it a real club feeling which is probably missing at international level in some of the teams. He brought the best out in people with a formation and style and he is very adaptable.
“For me, it is a no-brainer for anybody looking for a top-class manager.”