Belfast Telegraph

Gareth McAuley believes IFA would be "foolish" not to approach Stephen Robinson over NI job

Motherwell manager Stephen Robinson
Motherwell manager Stephen Robinson
Adam McKendry

By Adam McKendry

Former Northern Ireland defender Gareth McAuley has described Motherwell boss Stephen Robinson as the "perfect person" to replace Michael O'Neill as Northern Ireland boss.

The IFA are currently in the process of seeking O'Neill's permanent replacement for when the new Stoke City boss departs his role following the play-offs for the finals of Euro 2020.

McAuley wrote in his Sunday Life column this week that Robinson should be the man to take over the helm, and he doubled down on that belief by declaring it on live television on Wednesday morning.

Robinson has worked wonders with the 'Well in the Scottish Premiership, taking over in 2017 after the departure of Mark McGhee and becoming a favourite with the fans.

Under his stewardship, Motherwell had a sensational 2017-18 season, reaching the finals of both the Scottish League Cup and the Scottish Cup, losing both to Celtic.

In total, Robinson has recorded 58 wins with the Scottish club in his 126 matches in charge, giving him an excellent 46% win rate and making him the odds-on favourite to take the Windsor Park reins.

The Lisburn man, who made seven appearances for Northern Ireland as a player, also has experience within the international set-up before his managerial days.

Gareth_Mac.jpg
Former Northern Ireland international player Gareth McAuley - Photo by William Cherry/Presseye

He has worked with the under-age squads in previous years and knows the system, while he was also invited to the finals of Euro 2016 to assist O'Neill as part of his backroom staff.

All of that experience has left McAuley, who has a good relationship with Robinson from his time with the national team, confident that there is only one man for the job.

"There are a few names being bandied about. For me personally, the one is Stephen Robinson at Motherwell," said McAuley in an appearance on Sky Sports News.

"I think it keeps the continuity, he knows the players that are coming through, he's worked with them in the under-age groups.

"He knows the players in the senior squad, he's worked with them under Michael. He was at the Euros with us. The lads have a lot of respect for him.

"I just think it would be foolish if they didn't at least approach him and make contact, even if they feel Michael should carry on. What's being done at Motherwell is being noticed and it wouldn't surprise me if another club comes in.

"They may lose out on the perfect person to take over."

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