Belfast Telegraph

Friday 19 September 2014

In Pictures: 10 things new Northern Ireland manager must do

1. Get the Green and White Army behind you right away
It didn't take long for Nigel Worthington to frustrate the fans. In only his second game in charge back in 2007 he dropped defender Stephen Craigan, who had played in all the major wins in the few years before. Result: a defeat in Latvia.
Four days later, incredibly Craigan was excluded from the side again. Result: a defeat in Iceland.
With those two losses went any chance that Northern Ireland had of qualifying for the Euro 2008 finals - a dream that had looked a reality when Northern Ireland moved top of their qualifying group midway through the campaign.
I'm not sure Nigel ever recovered from that disappointment with many supporters.
In recent months the anger of the fans towards the boss was evident. The new man will have to get the Green and White Army on his side right from the start by talking positively about how he is going to restore the pride, passion and belief in the team.
That will appeal and then it’s a case of getting a few positive results in the first friendlies.
2. Make a phone call to retired Aaron Hughes
Out of the several players who have retired from international duty in recent times, Aaron Hughes is the one that we will miss most.
I know the Fulham defender, such a fabulous servant down the years, has stated there will be no turning back with his decision, but surely it is worth a call in the New Year to tempt him into a return.
If he says yes, what a bonus for the new reign. If not, well at least we won't be left wondering. Aaron is 31 and easily has another campaign left in him. Other players look up to him for the way he acts on and off the field and it would be a real boost if the defender could be persuaded to give international football another go.
10. Be lucky, pray a lot and try to enjoy it
Sammy McIlroy (pictured after a defeat to Czech Republic) was deemed unfortunate in his time in charge and on occasion Nigel Worthington didn't get many breaks. Let's hope our new boss can ride his luck and unearth a few young gems like Shane Ferguson who seemingly didn't want to play for Worthington. Get Liverpool kid Ryan McLaughlin involved too — a star in the making. Also the manager will have to pray and if possible enjoy it. After all, he'll be doing a job we'd all love a crack at.

Irish FA bigwigs will meet in the coming weeks to decide who to target as Nigel Worthington’s successor.

Sure to come up in the conversation will be Martin O’Neill, Michael O’Neill, Jim Magilton and Iain Dowie, who all served their country with distinction as players in the past. It will take a lot of work though, as outlined here.

>>Click More Pictures to launch gallery

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