Belfast Telegraph

Finland coach Mixu Paatelainen must not lose in Belfast, or he'll go

By Steven Beacom

Finland manager Mixu Paatelainen is hoping not to be hit by the Northern Ireland managerial curse on Sunday.

Already in the Euro 2016 qualifying campaign two international bosses have lost their jobs following defeats to Michael O'Neill's side and with pressure building on Paatelainen he could do with a result at Windsor Park to avoid the same fate.

After Northern Ireland defeated Hungary 2-1 in their opening Group F match last September, Attila Pinter was sacked after just one competitive game as boss of the Magyars.

In October, Northern Ireland's 2-0 victory in Athens placed huge pressure on Greece manager Claudio Ranieri and when his side were defeated at home to the Faroe Islands a month later, the Tinkerman, previously in charge of Chelsea, was gone.

Romania have also changed their manager in this campaign, though that was not down to a dismissal as Victor Piturca left for a club in Saudi Arabia, with Anghel Iordanescu replacing him.

O'Neill's job is safe while Faroes boss Lars Olsen is a hero after that victory against Greece, but Paatelainen is not on such steady ground.

His team, confident of a top three place when the draw was made, are fourth in the group with just four points and one win against the Faroes. They have lost their last two Euro 2016 matches.

On his position, Paatelainen, who is close friends with O'Neill from their time together as manager and assistant manager at Cowdenbeath, said: "There is always pressure. The biggest pressures will, however, come from myself, because I always want to win every game.

"This is not always the case, of course, and there are good and bad moments. The last two qualifying matches have been bad moments and it is clear that we need to improve."

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