Belfast Telegraph

Just lead us into Euro 2008 first: website plea

By Bryan Gray

There was a feeling of shock and inevitability among the Green and White Army last night as they came to terms with the announcement Lawrie Sanchez is to manage Fulham until the end of the season.

Sanchez, who took charge of Northern Ireland in January 2004 promised the supporters a goal, a win and progressive movement up the world rankings after a barren period.

His three year tenure has been a rollercoaster ride, highlighted by stunning wins over England, Spain and most recently Sweden at Windsor Park. The success of the Northern Ireland team on the pitch under Sanchez has endeared him to the supporters off it.

Fans on the Our Wee Country website have expressed a degree of dismay at the suddenness of the move yet understanding of Sanchez's new caretaker role in the world's most famous football league.

The majority of supporters believe Sanchez will see out his contract until the end of the European qualifying campaign but fear his dual role, if offered the post full time, could hamper Northern Ireland's hopes of qualifying for a major competition for the first time since 1986.

Writing on the supporter's forum, GAWA Mad said: "I think he will stay until the end of the campaign but can't see him staying after that. Hopefully he gives us the best parting gift possible by leading us to Euro 2008."

Ealing Green said: "I'm afraid we've got to accept that whatever happens, Lawrie ain't going to be in charge of Northern Ireland after the end of next season. As far as I'm concerned he hasn't ever broken any commitments and ... he's already done an outstanding job."

Another fan said: "Congratulations Lawrie. To get a Premiership job (albeit temporarily) shows how well the English view his and our achievements over the last three years."

Another supporter expects any Fulham team under Sanchez to have a significant Ulster make-up from next season.

"As a die-hard Leeds fan, as much as it hurts me to say it ... Sir David Healy would be better off playing alongside Sammy Clingan at Fulham in September 2007," he said.

Belfast Telegraph


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