Belfast Telegraph

IFA won’t want me as new boss, says Shiels

By Steven Beacom

Kilmarnock manager Kenny Shiels has launched a blistering attack on Northern Ireland boss Nigel Worthington.

Right now Worthington must be feeling like a human punchbag, because he's being hit from all sides.

In the past week his team have lost back-to-back Euro 2012 qualifiers against Serbia and Estonia — the latter an embarrassing 4-1 defeat — just about every Northern Ireland fan wants him out of the job, it's almost certain the Irish FA won't renew his contract and his predecessor Lawrie Sanchez has already shamelessly offered to take over, stating that Worthington's reign has “got worse rather than better.”

If all that wasn't bad enough, yesterday came an astonishing verbal assault from former Northern Ireland under-17 boss Shiels, who is well known in Irish League circles for his outspoken views from his days as manager of Carrick Rangers, Larne, Ballymena United and Coleraine.

At his regular weekly briefing in front of the Scottish press, Shiels claimed that Worthington isn't a “football man.” It's a harsh assessment given that Nigel has been a highly successful player and rarely out of work manager for most of the life.

Shiels also insisted that Worthington brought in the wrong staff at the IFA and has taken the country back 10 years!

It is worth pointing out that when Worthington was appointed in 2007 he recruited his own people, leading to the departures of then under-17 manager Shiels, along with under-19 boss Mal Donaghy.

Quizzed about whether he would take the Northern Ireland manager's job, if, as expected, Worthington leaves at the end of the current qualifying campaign, Kenny's reply was typically straight to the point, with a clear message for the IFA.

“I would be the last person the IFA would want to bring in because me and them would just not be compatible,” he said.

“There would have to be a lot of changes. They’ve gone back 10 years in the last four.

“I was one of the people responsible for putting the development plan in motion and that’s been kicked into touch.

“I’ve seen it just diminish. That’s my professional opinion on that.

“It hurts me to see the way it’s going. We’re a much smaller nation than Scotland, but the players I brought through into the current squad are much better than the scorelines are suggesting under this style of play.

“The players I worked with are all 26 and under; Steven Davis, Kyle Lafferty, Sammy Clingan, Chris Brunt, all of them.

“I don’t want to be knocking someone when they’re down. Everybody has good in them — that’s my philosophy in life — and it’s not that Nigel Worthington is a bad person.

“But he’s not a football man, really. He doesn’t know the game in terms of how you provide a football team. I’m sure people have said that about me, but that’s just a personal opinion.”

In full flow, Shiels spoke of his dismay at numerous players opting to snub Northern Ireland and play for the Republic instead, insisting had he still been working at the IFA, it would not have happened.

He said: “Northern Ireland has a population of 1.5m people, but their target is 1m because, unfortunately, the way things have developed half a million people now want to play for the Republic of Ireland.

“When I was there that didn’t happen and it wouldn’t have happened.

“I had Darron Gibson, Shane Duffy and Daniel Kearns in my squad and there’s no way that they would have left to play for the Republic if I was still there. No way: they still phone me.

“But they’ve gone because they’ve brought in too many English staff. Worthington brought this whole entourage from England — his assistant Glynn Snodin, goalkeeping coach Fred Barber and all the rest.”

Shiels continued: “The kids don't have any affinity with the staff. As well as that they also introduced English kids — from 16-19 — right through the system.

“It became clogged with English youngsters who weren’t any better than the Northern Ireland lads.

“The Irish boys are being brought through to the age of 16 and being replaced by average English players because they play at youth level for Coventry or Norwich or Watford.

“They’re no better than what we had, but young locals were pushed aside so there is resentment there straight away. That shouldn’t have been allowed to happen.

“Mal Donaghy and I left — and got sacked — because we wouldn’t work under those conditions and it’s just gone downhill from there.”

Belfast Telegraph

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