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Michael O'Neill: Prospect of managing an English club has become less enticing


Michael O'Neill has enjoyed an impressive stint in charge of Northern Ireland

Michael O'Neill has enjoyed an impressive stint in charge of Northern Ireland

Michael O'Neill has enjoyed an impressive stint in charge of Northern Ireland

The prospect of being a club manager in English football is less enticing than it once was, according to Northern Ireland boss Michael O'Neill.

O'Neill cropped up as a possible candidate for the Leicester vacancy when the Premier League champions axed Claudio Ranieri last month only for the Foxes to appoint Craig Shakespeare until at least the end of the season.

Having led his country to the last 16 at Euro 2016, 30 years on from their most recent tournament appearance, O'Neill's stock remains high even if any suitors would need to prise him away from an Irish Football Association contract that runs until 2020.

And Ranieri's fall from grace was seen as indicative of the short-termism club sides across the water display towards managers and that has made O'Neill, who saw his former number two Stephen Robinson last only six months at Oldham, wary of what may come next.

"Football's more volatile now than it's ever been," he said.

"Everyone always thinks the next step for a manager in my position is to go into club football in England and that may not be the case. The game's a lot more global now. Look at the tenure of a club manager in England and it's maybe not as appealing as it was.

"You never know how someone evaluates what you do, the ownership model at clubs is very different from what it was. It would be foolhardy of me to wish my career away thinking 'I wish I had that job, this job'. I don't think like that.

"I'm five years in this job and a lot of people are trying to put me into another job but I'm okay where I'm at. I'm focused on the games now and in June and the prize, hopefully, of getting to Russia."

One Northern Irishman who has thrived since making the move to England is West Brom defender Gareth McAuley.

The 37-year-old has played every minute in the Premier League this term and the division's oldest outfield player has scored more league goals than the likes of Riyad Mahrez and Mesut Ozil.

Thirteen years after originally swapping Coleraine for League Two club Lincoln, the late bloomer is continuing to defy Father Time.

"He's a better player for me now than he was when I took the job," O'Neill added.

"Playing in the Premier League has made him a better defender, to be able to improve at that age is probably very rare.

"He's an example of a player who didn't get the opportunity of being a professional footballer at a young age, and who never gave up.

"Nothing has come easy to him, his club career hasn't come easy to him, his international career hasn't come easy to him. I suppose his legacy will be that it's never too late."

PA Media