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Tommy Wright leaves St Johnstone and immediately installed as odds-on favourite for Northern Ireland job


Tommy Wright

Tommy Wright

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Tommy Wright

Tommy Wright has been installed as the new odds-on favourite to become the next Northern Ireland manager after parting company with St Johnstone.

Former Ballymena United and Distillery boss Wright joined the Ladbrokes Premiership club in November 2011 as assistant manager before taking the hotseat in June 2013.

He led the Perth side to their first-ever Scottish Cup success in 2014 and guided the club to several top-six places.

St Johnstone reached the Europa League qualifying rounds on four occasions under Wright but could not make the group stages.

Wright had two years left on his contract but the club admitted that they had planned for the 56-year-old to leave at the end of the campaign and felt that "now would be an appropriate time" to part company.

His odds to become the next Northern Ireland boss were immediately slashed from an initial 5/1 to 10/11, ahead of Under 21 boss Ian Baraclough, now 11/4, and Motherwell chief Stephen Robinson.

Wright said in a statement on St Johnstone's official website: "I've had a fantastic journey with the club and I would like to personally thank Steve, Stan and Charlie for their continued support during my time as manager.

"I would also like to thank all the staff and players that have been on this journey during my time at the club.

"Finally, I want to take the opportunity to say that the support I have had from the fans has been incredible and contributed immensely to my experience with the club.

"So, to the club, its staff, players and fans - I'll always hold a very special place for you all and I look forward to coming back to McDiarmid Park - I am so proud of what we have achieved together.

"We have an exciting group of young players and I look forward to seeing their progression with you all."

Wright began his managerial career with Limavady United, taking over with the club bottom of the Irish Premiership table but guiding them to survival.

He would later go on to lead Ballymena to the County Antrim Shield final and win the League Cup with Lisburn Distillery before moving to Scotland.

As a player, he earned 31 caps in goals for Northern Ireland, his clubs including Newcastle United, Nottingham Forest and Manchester City.

Last month, former Northern Ireland keeper Alan Mannus, who played for Wright at St Johnstone, tipped the 56-year-old to succeed Michael O'Neill.

“You’ve seen managers from similar size clubs who have got opportunities,” said the Shamrock Rovers stopper. “The likes of Alex Neil (who moved to Norwich after guiding Hamilton to promotion to the Scottish Premiership).

“He deserved his chance in England but at that stage, Tommy had done a lot more.

“The IFA will have Tommy at the very top of the list – maybe him and one or two others.

“They will definitely be well aware of what he’s done. He played for Northern Ireland, captained Northern Ireland and has coached with the national team as well.

“Everyone in the game knows him over here and thinks very highly of him.”

Belfast Telegraph