Jimmy Nicholl delighted as Ian Baraclough keeps him on Northern Ireland coaching team

Relief for ex-Dundee assistant manager when he received phone call from new team boss
Jimmy Nicholl: 'As one door closes another door opens'. Picture: SNS.Jimmy Nicholl: 'As one door closes another door opens'. Picture: SNS.
Jimmy Nicholl: 'As one door closes another door opens'. Picture: SNS.

Jimmy Nicholl has revealed he is being retained on the Northern Ireland coaching staff under new manager Ian Baraclough. The 63-year-old left his post as assistant manager at Dundee last week due to cost-cutting measures by the Dens Park club. He was only appointed last summer to assist James McPake in his first season in charge.

With Northern Ireland conducting a series of interviews to identify Michael O’Neill’s replacement, Nicholl feared losing his role as assistant manager there as well. However, Nicholl, pictured, who won 73 Northern Ireland caps, confirmed he has been kept on by Baraclough, who has stepped up from the Under 21s. The former Motherwell manager phoned Nicholl on Sunday night to confirm he would be a member of his staff.

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“As one door closes another door opens,” said Nicholl. “Ian Baraclough has been announced the new Northern Ireland manager. The phone goes last night at 8:30pm and I thought: ‘Oh no, here we go’. I said: ‘Congratulations on getting the job’.

“He said: ‘I am just phoning you because I would like to keep you on the staff’. One minute you are a wee bit down and then the next you get a great lift. I am really delighted about that.”

Baraclough was chosen ahead of fellow candidates, including Motherwell manager Stephen Robinson and former St Johnstone manager Tommy Wright. His first matches are Nations League fixtures against Romania and Norway in September before facing a Euro 2020 semi-final play-off against Bosnia and Herzegovina the following 

Meanwhile, Nicholl admitted he was “a wee bit surprised” when McPake phoned him to deliver the news that he would have to let his assistant go amid cuts at the club due to Covid-19. Sports scientist Cammy McDermid has also left Dens Park while the players have been asked to take 30 per cent wage cuts. “There was a wee bit of a surprise when James phoned on Friday morning at 10am,” he told BBC Radio Scotland’s Sportsound programme yesterday.

“You have to expect things and be prepared for it. But talking to James over the weeks he said: ‘No, no, the club is fully insured, we are going to be alright. We’re signing players and everything is looking good for next season’. When you’re talking like that one minute, then you get the phone call saying: ‘Listen we are having to make cuts, players are taking cuts and I am having to cut my staff’, it is a wee bit disappointing because you are not expecting it.

“Any other time I have been prepared for it. Times are difficult. Something had to give. Unfortunately it was 

Nicholl revealed coach Dave Mackay is likely to step up even if he will not have the official title of assistant 

“James is just a young manager,” Nicholl added. “He’s got a good wee set-up, good players, so he’ll be all right. I wished him good luck.”

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