Belfast Telegraph

Wright a perfect fit for 'daunting' role, insists ex-NI defender Griffin

 

Contender: Tommy Wright has been backed to replace O’Neill
Contender: Tommy Wright has been backed to replace O’Neill

By Graham Luney

Former Northern Ireland international Danny Griffin believes Tommy Wright is a serious contender to become Michael O'Neill's successor and he has compared the challenge to replacing Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United.

Griffin, who made over 100 appearances for St Johnstone, is full of admiration for the incredible work Wright has done at McDiarmid Park on limited resources.

Wright won 31 caps for his country, two more than Griffin, and was goalkeeping coach for O'Neill at Shamrock Rovers and Northern Ireland.

With O'Neill being appointed Stoke City boss, the Irish FA have the unenviable task of finding a successor who can build on the Ballymena man's legacy.

Wright would relish a crack at the job, while admitting: "I'm a great believer in whatever's going to happen is going to happen."

Griffin feels the Saints boss, the second-longest serving manager in the Scottish Premiership behind Aberdeen chief Derek McInnes after taking charge in 2013, is the perfect man to keep Northern Ireland on the right road.

"He deserves to be recognised for the job given what a terrific job he has done at St Johnstone," argued Griffin.

"He has built a team to compete every season.

"You could possibly say it is a daunting job given how well Michael O'Neill has done.

"Going back to when Tommy and I were playing together, it wasn't a nice time - you felt like whipping boys of all the countries but Michael has done a phenomenal job and for someone to fill his job is a bit like the next person having to follow Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United.

"The next manager was going to have a big job to do and it will be a similar challenge."

Motherwell's Stephen Robinson is also a leading contender for the role.

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