4 Premiership managers have their say on Michael O'Neill to Scotland

The four Northern Irish managers working in the Scottish Premiership each had their say on Thursday afternoon regarding national team boss Michael O'Neill and his link with the vacant Scotland's manager's job.
Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers. Picture: SNSCeltic manager Brendan Rodgers. Picture: SNS
Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers. Picture: SNS
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Michael O'Neill open to holding talks over Scotland job

The Scottish Football Association made an official approach to its counterparts in Belfast on Wednesday for permission to speak to O’Neill, who has emerged as the leading candidate to succeed Gordon Strachan as Scotland manager.

Here’s what they had to say on the matter...


Tommy Wright says O’Neill never mentioned the Scotland job when the pair spoke on Wednesday but feels the Northern Ireland manager has earned the right to consider his future.

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Wright worked in O’Neill’s coaching team before focusing on his role as St Johnstone manager and is surprised his former Newcastle and Northern Ireland team-mate has not been poached by a major club after guiding his country to the last 16 of last summer’s European Championship.

Wright said on Thursday: “I spoke to Michael at length (on Wednesday) and the Scotland job never came up in conversation but it is well documented that Scotland feel that he is their preferred choice and have made contact with the IFA I believe.

“If that’s true I don’t think the IFA will give up lightly, I think they will do everything in their powers to keep Michael because the job he has done with Northern Ireland is incredible. And if you look at the job he has done I find it baffling that he hasn’t had a club move out of that before now.

“I genuinely don’t know what he would do. But what he has done for Northern Ireland, he deserves the right to make that decision.”


Another former member of O’Neill’s backroom team, Motherwell manager Stephen Robinson, also feels the Northern Ireland boss would have a major impact with Scotland but has no idea whether he would accept the challenge.

He said: “He has about 35/36 players to choose from, four or five from the Premier League and the rest made up from League Two and our leagues - what he’s done with that amount of players and achieved has been incredible. If you’re sitting on an international board, he’d be at the forefront of your mind most definitely.

“What Scotland have is a bigger pool of players and a professional league in the country, a massive support and massive media attention, whereas Northern Ireland is a part-time league and we don’t have the pool of players. Scotland have improved in the last few months. I cant speak for Michael, but there’s obviously a lot of potential.

“International football is six or seven games a year, you have a life outside of it, more down time and more thinking time whereas a club job is more full-on and takes over your life. That’s a decision he has to make, and he’s earned the right and he’s entitled to do that.

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“He’s a shrewd cookie, Michael, so I know whatever he does will be the right decision.”


Neil Lennon hopes his former Northern Ireland team-mate stays in the post but feels the Scotland job would be far more tempting than an offer from Sunderland.

The Hibernian head coach said: “From a Northern Ireland perspective, it’s not great. Michael has a bit of thinking to do. His stock is very high. He’s worked miracles with the squad he has had and maybe, I don’t know if he thinks it’s a glass ceiling with Northern Ireland. Only Michael can answer that.

“I don’t know if he wants another stint at international level or if he leaves Northern Ireland he would go into club management, but I can see why Scotland have an interest in him. From a Northern Ireland perspective, we want him to stay, because he’s the king there.”

When asked whether a move to Hampden would be better than a new role in the Sky Bet Championship, Lennon said: “If you’re talking about Sunderland, then yeah, the Scotland job would be far more attractive than the Sunderland would be at this current time. Sunderland is a big club but there are some frailties there and the structure behind the scenes doesn’t look to be all it should be.

“It’s the bottom end of the Championship and the Scotland job is a very prestigious job, but it’s a very precarious job. It’s feast or famine, like a lot of international jobs. If things are going well you are the greatest thing since sliced bread and as soon as you get a negative result, you’re clueless.”


Another Northern Irishman managing in Scotland, Brendan Rodgers, feels no-one in his native land would begrudge O’Neill a fresh challenge.

The Celtic boss said: “If he came out of Northern Ireland there is no-one, Northern Irish or anyone, would hold anything against him with that, because he has devoted his life to there, brought through players and it was so unfortunate for him not to qualify.

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“I was really gutted for him and the players because the players have been brilliant over both campaigns. They were very unfortunate.

Seven Celtic players were in the most recent Scotland squad and Rodgers feels there is plenty of potential.

“If it is Michael then he can look and see there is a really talented group of players there that are developing very well,” he said. “There is a nucleus of a very exciting squad and you go into the European Championship next year and feel you would have a chance of qualifying.”