Belfast Telegraph

Sunday Life

Liam Beckett: Former Northern Ireland international Jim Magilton could be perfect fit to replace Michael O'Neill

Jim Magilton and Michael O'Neill
Jim Magilton and Michael O'Neill

By Liam Beckett

Lots of speculation has been bandied about as to Michael O'Neill's possible replacement as Northern Ireland boss ever since the news broke that he was to move into club management with Stoke City.

Although there's been some notable and well qualified nominees mooted, there's one person that's gone largely unmentioned who I personally think could well be the perfect fit and that's Jim Magilton.

The 50-year-old former Northern Ireland international could well be tailor-made for the post in that he comes with a real good CV, which includes all the necessary coaching qualifications plus a playing career at the very highest level, giving him both the theory and the practical experience that the post of managing Northern Ireland demands.

In fact, in many ways he's the mirror of O'Neill himself and, having been Michael's assistant at Shamrock Rovers (above), he will know exactly what is required and how best to go about achieving it.

For the last few years, Jim has been the Irish Football Association's Elite Performance Director, so it's pretty safe to assume he knows the current Northern Ireland youth football infrastructure better than most. Indeed, it is most likely his expertise which has led to several of our young budding stars of the future knocking on the door of the senior international team.

Let's not forget that Jim has also gained invaluable experience whilst managing Ipswich Town and Queens Park Rangers, so that more than aptly covers all aspects of the criteria required to take charge of Northern Ireland.

As an added bonus, Jim also has a good personality and a good way with people - something which Michael O'Neill has in abundance and which is a vital ingredient in forming that unique togetherness, not only in the team but also with the supporters.

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We live in a small country which can be complex at times so it's crucial that our footballers continue to provide that feel good factor and pride in our society which the international team has undoubtedly done for several years now.

Under O'Neill in particular, our team has filled us all with a renewed optimism and genuine hope and it's essential the new manager continues to replicate this trend.

Continuity is the key and I have a gut feeling that Magilton may just be the man for the job.

Belfast Telegraph


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