Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 23 August 2014

We must make our fans proud of the Northern Ireland team again: Michael O'Neill

Gareth McAuley called for fans to back the Northern Ireland team

It was a back page story in the Belfast Telegraph that generated a great deal of debate among Northern Ireland supporters.

On the back of last month's disappointing 2-0 defeat at home to Israel in a World Cup qualifier, defender Gareth McAuley stated that the atmosphere at Windsor Park had changed and that the fans didn't support the team like they used to.

Mostly the West Brom star received criticism for his comments, though some members of the Green and White Army admitted he had a point.

What did his manager Michael O'Neill think back then?

"In my opinion our fans stick with the team," was his initial response.

"Maybe Gareth's comments were misconstrued or made immediately after the game when obviously our players would have been down and disappointed.

"I know for sure that the players want to give our fans something and feel disappointed and frustrated when they let them down. I understand the frustrations of the players, but equally they have to understand the frustrations of the fans.

"What the Northern Ireland supporters want to see is a team that they can be proud of and at this moment in time we have to say we are probably not giving them what they want. It is up to us to change that."

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