Belfast Telegraph

Martin O'Neill will be a big hit at Sunderland, says Nigel Worthington

By Graham Luney

Nigel Worthington has tipped Martin O’Neill to be a smash hit at Sunderland.

And as the Irish Football Association go hunting for a new Northern Ireland boss, Worthington has warned them against going down the part-time route.

Worthington and O’Neill fought side by side for Northern Ireland in the 1980s with the Ballymena man gaining 66 caps — two more than the new Black Cats supremo.

“I think Martin’s arrival in Sunderland suits both parties,” said the former Norwich City boss.

“They are fanatical about their football in the north-east and Martin also has that hunger, desire and passion to succeed.

“You don’t lose that. If you’re a football man the next best thing to playing is to coach or manage a team. After being out of the game for 16 months I’m sure Martin is chomping at the bit again and this is a challenge that excites him.

“His record is second to none, he has won so many trophies at different clubs and Martin has always been a shrewd operator. As a player and manager his attitude will be the same — he’s a winner and he wants to win.”

Worthington is still under contract with the Irish FA until the end of this month, but he’ll follow the search for his successor with interest.

As a full-time boss, Worthington was paid around £450,000 a year, but the IFA could offer a part-time boss £350,000.

“If the job is to be done right, it should be done full-time,” said Worthington. “If all the work is to be done, hands on then all that time needs to be devoted to it.

“You are always looking out for young players and in these times when players can play for the Republic of Ireland as well, a big part of the job is reaching out to the community and making all the players feel welcome and wanted in the set-up.”

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