Belfast Telegraph

Michael O'Neill snub is 'embarrassing' for Scottish FA: Charlie Nicholas

Michael O'Neill's rejection of the Scotland manager's job is 'embarrasing' for the SFA, according to former international Charlie Nicholas.

O'Neill announced at lunch-time on Monday that he had turned down the offer to take over the reigns at Hampden Park.

Scotland have now been without a permanent boss for over 100 days since Gordon Strachan left the role. When asked on Sky Sports News if 'embarrassing' was a fair word to sum up the SFA's position, Nicholas replied:

"Probably is. It depends what twist you want to put on it. We're used to being embarrased to be honest. That's why I have a sense of humour about the subject. It's been embarrassing for a long time.

"Michael O'Neill wasn't my first choice but that's irrelevant. I'm absolutely convinced that we have more than enough Scottish candidates that would do the role that Michael O'Neill was being asked to fill."

Nicholas was hard on the SFA for their treatment of former manager Gordon Strachan, whose contract ran out in October and Malky Mackay, who has taken interim control of the team since Strachan's departure.

"We don't have a future if we don't get the structure of the national manager right," Nicholas continued. "It's harsh but it's realistic. We have to build up the youth again but don't embarrass people. They embarrassed Malky Mackay and I felt embarrassed the way they got rid of Gordon Strachan, who was a Scotland legend. A phone call to the man - it lacked class."

Meanwhile, fellow former Scotland star Michael Stewart has called the nature of the SFA's approach for O'Neill 'naive.'

"The whole thing hasn't been handled particularly well," the ex-Hearts and Hibernian midfielder told BBC Scotland. "It shows a poor tactical approach from (chief executive) Stewart Regan and the SFA.

"The tactics have been a bit naïve. They were so blatant in their pursuit of O'Neill that anyone who comes in next knows they are not the number one choice. Time should have taken with respect to Gordon Strachan - it wasn't a snap decision to be made then.

"It was quite obvious they wanted O'Neill but to let it drag on so long just made everything seem a bit contradictory.

"It strengthened the hand of O'Neill, who would probably have got a far better deal with Northern Ireland anyway after taking them to the Euros and almost to the World Cup."

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