Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 3 September 2014

Lawrie Sanchez's Greek tragedy

Telegraph Sport: where the debate starts

Lawrie Sanchez
Lawrie Sanchez

In case it escaped your attention, Apollon Smyrni were relegated from the Greek Superleague at the weekend.

What relevance is this, I hear you ask? Well, their man at the helm is a certain Lawrie Sanchez, once one of Britain's hottest managerial properties after his remarkable feats with Northern Ireland. How the mighty have fallen.

Just seven short years ago, after spearheading the Green and White Army to unforgettable Windsor Park victories against the likes of England, Spain and Sweden, he had the world at his feet.

Top of Group F in the Euro 2008 qualifiers, the lure of Fulham proved irresistible and the man who fans had grown to love jumped ship. The promising campaign eventually hit the buffers and Northern Ireland failed to qualify for the finals in Austria/Switzerland after Nigel Worthington took the reins.

Having saved the Cottagers from relegation in his five games in charge at the end of the 2006-7 season, he was axed the following December after steering them back into trouble.

Sanchez was then appointed Barnet manager in May 2011, but was again sacked – this time with three games of the season remaining as the Bees hovered just outside of the League Two drop zone.

It's hard to see where Sanchez can go after this Greek tragedy. No one can blame him for having the ambition to tackle the Premier League, but his biggest mistake was to not see out that qualifying campaign and lead Northern Ireland to their first major finals since 1986.

You could have been a hero, Lawrie.

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