Michael O'Neill turns down Sunderland chance

Marco Green
November 17, 2017

The Scottish FA have approached their Northern Irish counterparts for permission to speak to their boss about succeeding Gordon Strachan.

The Scottish Football Association has requested talks with Michael O'Neill and Sunderland are also interested.

Wright can fully understand why the SFA have identified O'Neill as their number one target - and why his own FA will fight hard to keep him.

"It is nice that people who might have inside information seem to think that I would be a candidate if the job does become available". To get to the last 16 or the Euros and then to make the play-offs in a group containing Germany and the Czech Republic was unheard of when I played. Michael has spent six years or so at Northern Ireland now, has done a European Championship finals and just missed out on a World Cup. But I think this is different.

Rodgers is in fairly regular contact with O'Neill, most recently when he appraised him of the abilities of Millwall midfielder George Saville - a player the Celtic boss worked with at Reading and Chelsea - who performed well in Northern Ireland's unfortunate
play-off elimination against Switzerland.

However, sources close to O'Neill have now revealed that he has decided against the Sunderland opportunity.

"It doesn't surprise me that there is interest in him from elsewhere".

"He's devoted his life to them recently, and brought through players and was so very unfortunate not to qualify for the World Cup - I was really gutted for him and the players, because the players have been brilliant over both campaigns. But it's down to him if he wants to stay at Northern Ireland or go back to club football".

Sunderland are now looking for a replacement for Simon Grayson.

"He knows that it is like any Scottish manager, if they were linked to the Scottish job, your country is your country, and for me it is the top job that I could probably ever achieve". He sees St Johnstone manager Tommy Wright as the ideal fit for the job.

He added: "If I had finished with one cap for my country I'd have been happy but I ended up with 31 and captained the side three or four times".

"He does not have a big squad of players, there is not great strength in depth but the players have been magnificent for him as he has got the best out of them".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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