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Gareth McAuley

Sorry Coleraine fans, but I want to see Oran back across the water

Gareth McAuley


Coleraine manager Oran Kearney

Coleraine manager Oran Kearney

Coleraine manager Oran Kearney

Oran Kearney deserves another crack at managing a team across the water.

The sour taste he experienced at St Mirren last year - despite doing a wonderful job - should not be his abiding memory of management in professional football.

In my view, continually being undermined and disrespected by people behind the scenes at the club, who felt slighted that they were overlooked for the manager's position, meant Oran's task was near impossible.

Yet the fact he was able to organise and galvanise the team to avoid relegation from the Scottish Premiership was, in those circumstances, extraordinary.

Having been in Scotland with Rangers at the time and been aware of the situation, I felt nothing but admiration for Oran and the way his team played and how he conducted himself.

Those in power at St Mirren should have realised Oran's quality and ditched those who were making life difficult for him, and built the club around him.

Instead, it was Oran who left the club and, in a way, it may be a blessing for him.

He's returned home to Coleraine with his reputation very much intact. In fact, Oran's stock has only risen by turning around the Bannsiders' fortunes again and I would be surprised if clubs in England and Scotland aren't keeping tabs on him.

A Coleraine team who struggled last year without him at the helm won the first major cup competition of the season, are in the thick of the title race with Linfield and have reached the Semi-Finals of the Irish Cup.

When we played against Oran's St Mirren last year they were a tough team to beat - there was structure, desire and a great belief.

He has that great knack of getting players to perform beyond what is their natural talent on a consistent basis.

On paper, Rangers should easily have beaten St Mirren but that certainly wasn't the case. We only won through a deflected shot and then Alfredo Morelos scored late on when they were pushing for an equaliser. But if it hadn't been for some good fortune, St Mirren would have fully deserved their point and Oran would have deserved a great deal of credit.

Oran is enjoying a great season with my old club Coleraine, however his ability as a manager should be taking him across the water again.

If he hasn't already, he needs to get himself some representation, an agent who can do all the talking on his behalf and shop him around.

Clubs nowadays don't want to do the leg work - agents come to them and so Oran, if he wants to manage in professional football, must put his name out there. The results and success he has enjoyed with Coleraine will not be enough.

But he must still make sure it is the right club, a team that suits his style and beliefs, a club allowing him to build and be his own man.

And then, if he does get another chance, he has to be fully committed and I'm afraid his family life will take a hit.

In the professional game, you do have to be selfish and ruthless - you will miss birthdays, school plays, junior football games and wedding anniversaries.

Sacrifices have to be made and it's hard - all the money in the world can't pay for the memories you may miss.

It's one of the reasons why I haven't rushed into coaching - even though I've had offers. I want to enjoy some family time, see my kids grow up after so long being a professional footballer but I know once I go into full-time coaching, family time will be limited.

Oran will have to weigh that up in his head and think to himself, 'Is it worth it?'

I hope St Mirren isn't the one and only time we see Oran in professional management.

The consequences should be Dier for Eric trying to act the big lad

I know Eric Dier has received a sympathetic ear since confronting a fan in the stands following Tottenham's defeat to Norwich in the FA Cup, but I thought it was pure madness.

Apparently Eric felt he and his brother were being insulted and verbally abused and he risked his career by barging into the stands to tackle the supporter.

Oh come on... sticks and stones and all that. It's just indicative of this snowflake society.

I was highly critical of the young Warrenpoint goalkeeper Mark Byrne for fighting with Ballymena United fans in the Irish Cup and I'm equally appalled by Eric's actions.

At least at Warrenpoint you could make out what was being said from the supporters but I've played at big stadiums like Tottenham's and from pitch level there is no way he could hear what was being said 20 or so rows up. Plus it was in the posh seats, behind the dugouts, which means if his brother really feared for his safety there would have been enough stewards there to intervene.

Eric didn't need to get involved. When he did get there, he acted the big man with a bit of pushing and verbals.

It was ridiculous, and I say throw the book at him. I'd be shocked if his England career wasn't over. If I was Gareth Southgate, I wouldn't have him about the place.

Professional footballers are role models, they have a responsibility and their actions have consequences.

I know his boss Jose Mourinho was largely supportive of him on the night, but behind closed doors and in Tottenham's current situation, I would say Jose absolutely nailed him.

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Belfast Telegraph