Sunday 25 August 2019

Evans would love O'Neill to stay

Jonny Evans is due to return to the starting XI for tomorrow night’s friendly against Latvia
Jonny Evans is due to return to the starting XI for tomorrow night’s friendly against Latvia

Rory Dollard

Jonny Evans is desperate for Michael O'Neill to commit his future to Northern Ireland, but believes he has the qualities to succeed in the Premier League.

Having played the majority of his career under the peerless Alex Ferguson at Manchester United, Evans has a high bar to measure against.

And the West Brom defender is full of praise for O'Neill, who took his side from fifth seeds to a first ever European Championship next summer.

Discussions are under way on a new deal but O'Neill's profile is on the rise and a strong showing in France next summer would surely see the suitors lining up at Windsor Park.

"I think it's something that will be talked about," admitted Evans. "It would be sad for us as players if it got to a situation where he wasn't here. We'd all love to see him stay on.

"We know how much he puts into that so he deserves what he's got."

Asked if the 46-year-old could be just as successful in English football, Evans said: "Yes, I think so.

"What I like about him is he won't just settle for what's there, he'll try to improve. The fact is he's only with us for 10 days at a time and has improved us as players, as a team, as individuals.

"If he got hold of a team on a regular basis he would no doubt improve them.

"His style of coaching is based around thinking about the game, not just running the legs off the lads. I could sit down and talk football for hours with him.

"He's a real thinker of the game, which I like, and he looks at things from different angles. I like the way he wants his teams to play.

"Michael's made us successful by the way he wants to play - taking the game to the opposition. We've scored goals, we've kept clean sheets.

"He gets everyone playing for him and his tactical understanding is fantastic."

Evans is due to return to the starting XI for tomorrow night's friendly against Latvia. Injury meant he missed the famous night at Windsor Park last month when victory over Greece sealed a first major tournament in 30 years.

"There's a much bigger prize at stake than my own personal achievements. I'm just glad as a country we're able to go to France and represent the country," he added.

Irish Independent

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