Saturday 24 February 2018

Michael O'Neill could manage in Premier League says Gerry Taggart

Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill is on the brink of Euro 2016 qualification
Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill is on the brink of Euro 2016 qualification

Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill should be a target for Premier League clubs if he leads his side to Euro 2016, says the country's former defender Gerry Taggart.

Victory against Greece on Thursday would seal Northern Ireland's place at their first major tournament since the 1986 World Cup and their first ever appearance at a European Championships.

Northern Ireland currently sit top of Group F, four points clear of third-placed Hungary and needing only two points from their last two games, the last away to Finland, to qualify.

It has been a remarkable campaign for the team and Taggart, who played 51 times for Northern Ireland, believes O'Neill could have a shot in the Premier League once his time with the national team is over.

"He has to take massive credit, it's absolutely huge what he's achieved so far," said Taggart, who was speaking at the filming of the Vauxhall Home Nations Football Show.

"He doesn't get a lot of attention but the majority of these players have been playing for eight, nine years and somehow he's turned them around and got form from them.

"I don't see any reason why he can't get a job in the Premier League.

"It's happened to previous managers. Lawrie Sanchez did well for Northern Ireland and then picked up a Premier League job with Fulham.

"So there's no reason why Michael can't go on to bigger and better things too if he wants to dip his toe back into club football."

Northern Ireland have lost only once in their eight games so far and remain unbeaten at home ahead of Thursday's crunch match in Belfast.

Greece lost the reverse fixture 2-0 in October last year and Taggart believes securing qualification at Windsor Park would be the perfect way to finish.

"I can't even imagine what it would be like," Taggart said.

"Nobody deserves it more than the Northern Ireland fans, they've been through a lot and their home and away support has been unbelievable.

"They know how to rock a stadium. They've waited almost 30 years for a major tournament and the atmosphere will be unbelievable on Thursday if things go to plan.

"Just you watch in France, there will be green and white everywhere. We'll be taking over any part of France we play football in."

Press Association

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