Belfast Telegraph

Friday 26 December 2014

Fans are urged to get behind new NI manager

Back him: Michael O'Neill will get support from fans
Back him: Michael O'Neill will get support from fans

Northern Ireland supporters' chief Gary McAllister has called for the Green and White Army to throw their support behind new national boss Michael O'Neill.

The former Shamrock Rovers chief was confirmed as Nigel Worthington's successor by the Irish Football Association, beating Jim Magilton and Iain Dowie to the job, and will start work on February 1.

Former Norwich boss Worthington was subjected to some fierce criticism from the stands in his last few matches at the helm.

Now McAllister, chairman of the Amalgamation of Northern Ireland Supporters' Clubs, wants everybody to get behind the new appointment.

"I think the relationship with the manager over the last year was at a very low ebb, but we need to look forward not keep looking back," McAllister said.

"As fans we've not had too much to celebrate in the last year but now is time to look forward. We all need to get behind Michael O'Neill.

A new man can create a new dawn, if you will. There's always a little sparkle and people are hopeful that it can lead to something good or a repeat of past glories.

"We have to realise we have lost a lot of players and we're entering a period of transition with a new manager but hopefully it can be successful. The main thing is he needs to be given time."

One of the most pressing issues facing the IFA at present is the drain of young talent to the Football Association of Ireland.

McAllister said: "The manager, along with the elite player mentor Gerry Armstrong, are important in addressing this because they are the figureheads.

"But we all have a role to play because this is huge for Northern Ireland. There are things the IFA can do, things that we as fans can do to make Windsor Park welcoming and make people proud and there are things the manager can do as well."

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