Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland boss Michael O'Neill: No job would stop me taking Green and White Army to Euros

By Steven Beacom

Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill has insisted all his focus is on helping the country achieve success at the Euro 2016 finals despite being one of the candidates for the soon to be vacant hotseat at Celtic.

O'Neill, along with compatriots Neil Lennon and Brendan Rodgers, has admirers on the Celtic board who are looking for a new boss with Ronny Deila departing at the end of the season.

While the 46-year-old former Shamrock Rovers manager appreciates he will be linked with club jobs following his stunning exploits in leading Northern Ireland to the Euro finals, he insists only one task is occupying his thoughts at present.

Read more: Michael can become a standard bearer for British coaches: Mac

"My focus is purely on the Euro 2016 tournament and doing the best I can for the country, the fans and the players, who I owe a lot to for their efforts in qualifying. There isn't a job in football that would stop me going to manage Northern Ireland in the Euros," O'Neill told the Belfast Telegraph.

"I know with modern football speculation never goes away.

"It will exist leading into the tournament and possibly during the tournament, but my only focus at this point in time is on our three group games against Poland, Ukraine and Germany.

"The links to clubs and certain situations will always exist, but I don't pay attention. If a situation arises the IFA will deal with and I will deal with it."

In March O’Neill signed a new four year contract with the IFA which has a £750,000 release clause included if clubs come hunting for the Northern Ireland boss.

With O’Neill concentrating on the Euros, he wouldn’t be available for any club to make a move until Northern Ireland’s participation in the tournament is over.

Republic of Ireland assistant boss Roy Keane, also on the radar of the Parkhead hierarchy, is in the same boat and with Celtic likely to be involved in Champions League action in July, the Glasgow giants may want to make a quick appointment in preparation for the competition.

Ex-Celtic boss Lennon, who is available straight away, has made it clear he would welcome a return to the job while Rodgers would chat to the board, but is known to prefer making his managerial comeback, after leaving Liverpool last year, in the top flight of English football with his old club Swansea keen to employ him again.

Former Everton and Manchester United boss David Moyes is the favourite with the bookies and like Rodgers fancies another shot at a big job in England, but he too would listen to what the Celtic board have to say.

For these big hitters, they would need to be told that Celtic are going to splash the cash to have a real go at not only qualifying for the Champions League group stages but making an impact if they got there.

Deila’s budget won’t cut it. He ended up buying second-rate players, that led to second-rate performances from the team and ultimately his departure.

Belfast Telegraph