Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland v Greece: In demand Michael O'Neill tipped for top amid Celtic rumours

By Steven Beacom

Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill will have to get used to this... being linked to a host of clubs in England and Scotland.

It comes with success and so far in the Euro 2016 qualifying campaign, he has had plenty of that.

O'Neill's former international team-mate Gerry Taggart says O'Neill could manage in the Premier League and yesterday there were rumours circulating that Celtic, currently led by Ronny Deila, and managerless Sunderland may be interested in him.

There were even suggestions that the Irish FA had been contacted by a club who wanted to speak to O'Neill.

IFA Chief Executive Patrick Nelson's response to that was emphatic. He also stated that the only focus for everyone connected with Northern Ireland was the forthcoming Euro 2016 games against Greece and Finland, which could lead to qualification for the finals.

"We have not received an approach from anybody," said Nelson.

"Everybody in the IFA is focused on the two important qualifiers this week when we hope to qualify for the Euro 2016 finals.

"And we are looking forward to Michael O'Neill leading us in the tournament if we qualify."

Read more:

Doherty and Bingham did it, now it's O'Neill's turn

Michael O'Neill could manage in Premier League says Gerry Taggart 

O'Neill's current contract is up after the Euro qualification period. A deal will be struck so that he can take the team to the finals, should qualification be achieved.

O'Neill would prefer a new four-year contract and there are many fans who would happily see the IFA move away from their normal two-year packages to tie him down longer term.

What is certain is that clubs will continue to keep an eye on the 46-year-old. Nottingham Forest's Jamie Ward believes O'Neill's style of management would work at club level.

Taggart said: "I don't see any reason why he can't get a job in the Premier League. It's happened to previous managers. Lawrie Sanchez did well for Northern Ireland and then picked up a Premier League job with Fulham.

"So there's no reason why Michael can't go on to bigger and better things too if he wants back into club football."

Belfast Telegraph