Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 17 April 2014

Steven Beacom: Why I fear Martin O’Neill will never be our manager

Martin O'Neill does not look likely to ever accept the role of Northern Ireland manager

I would have loved to have seen Martin O’Neill become Northern Ireland manager. The press conferences would be fun for a start.

And I’m certain the players would have been hanging on his every word in the dressing room.

Indeed, they would have been lucky to make kick-off because the fascinating 59-year-old would have so much to say.

As Northern Ireland captain he was an inspirational figure and as boss he would have been the same.

Now though he has ruled himself out stating he wants to return to club management rather than enter the world of international football.

His old manager Billy Bingham, the most successful we’ve ever had, felt O’Neill would have lifted our wee country after some awful results. Few would disagree.

Even one of the other candidates, Iain Dowie, said earlier this week that if Martin wanted the job he should get it. Problem is, he doesn’t. Not at this stage anyway.

My fear is he will NEVER manage our wee country.

He’s 59 now and the next Northern Ireland boss to be appointed in January 2012, be that Jim Magilton, Michael O’Neill or Iain Dowie will deserve four years in the post to prove their worth.

Martin would be 63 by then and he might want to put his feet up at that stage and I’m sure come 2016 there will be many other younger candidates in the frame.

We might as well get used to the fact that the 1982 World Cup captain and one of the brightest minds in modern day football is now highly unlikely to manage Northern Ireland.

It’s a shame, but now we move on.

Magilton, the other O’Neill and Dowie have much to offer.

I genuinely believe any of the above are capable of doing a fine job.

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