Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland boss Michael O'Neill admits he could be tempted by West Brom job

 

Michael O'Neill
Michael O'Neill

By Steven Beacom

Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill has revealed that it would be 'difficult' to leave his side behind but admitted moving back into club management is a temptation for him.

Championship outfit West Bromwich Albion are interested in O'Neill, who has done a fantastic job as Northern Ireland boss since being appointed in December 2011.

The Baggies are also keen on Chris Hughton, who was sacked by Brighton earlier this month, and have opened talks with highly rated Lincoln manager Danny Cowley as they search for someone to lead them back to the Premier League.

They are likely to ask the Irish FA for permission to speak to O'Neill next, knowing any move will cost at least £500,000 in compensation to the IFA.

Former Shamrock Rovers supremo O'Neill is contracted to the Irish FA until 2024, and they are determined to keep him, but it is evident from his comments at a Northern Ireland training camp in Manchester yesterday that, if the right club and offer came along, he would face a tough decision.

Pointing out that his primary focus right now is preparing for next month's vital Euro 2020 qualifiers in Estonia and Belarus, O'Neill said: "It's always nice to be linked with other vacancies and I'm sure there's a number of managers that West Brom are looking to speak to.

"They're a club with a lot of potential. Club football is always attractive and the Championship is certainly a very appealing league to work in.

"When you are looking to step out of the situation I am in, you are always looking at what the structure of the club is and that it is right for me.

"With the club game now, there is so much instability and the tenure of managers is very short-term."

O'Neill, who turned down the Scotland job early last year, added: "Since being in this job, a number of approaches have been made. I haven't felt it's been the right thing to do.

"When you are managing your home country it's a difficult situation to leave that job. I have a lot of stability in my job and a good relationship with the IFA.

"I've worked very hard to achieve success with the team and build a team that can challenge to go to major tournaments.

"We did that with the Euro 2016 finals in France and we want to do it again in Euro 2020."

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