Could Scotland And Rangers Go To War Over Michael O’Neill?

We can have no doubts when it comes to Micheal O’Neill and the job he has done with Northern Ireland. The forty-eight year old has been magnificent in turning his nation’s fortunes around.

Yes they just missed out on the World Cup due to a slender play-off loss to Switzerland but to get the Green and White Army so close is such a huge achievement. Guiding them to France and to EURO 2016 was an amazing feat.

That has obviously seen the manager’s stock rise dramatically with plenty of suitors taking an interest in his work.

Two current potential employers could be the SFA and Rangers Football Club.

Scotland need a new boss after Gordon Strachan failed to get his side over the line when they were a win away from a play-off spot themselves. It has now been almost twenty years since Scotland graced a major international tournament.

On the other hand Rangers have recently sacked Pedro Caixinha after the Portuguese failed to live up to his own hype. The Ibrox club are sitting in fourth place in the Scottish Premiership but are only six points off top spot.

Moving back to Scotland might interest O’Neill greatly, as he spent significant time here as both a player and a manager in the past. In actual fact the former Hibs man still resides in Edinburgh. You’d also imagine that both jobs in Glasgow would pay him more than he gets in Belfast, supposedly the SFA are ready to double his current wage packet.

The first question O’Neill will have to ask himself is ‘does he want to leave his current job with Northern Ireland?’

He’s safe with the IFA and they enjoy a strong working relationship. He has assembled a squad that clearly back him and respect him, midfielder Oliver Norwood said this after the loss to the Swiss:

“The message is loud and clear from the players and fans that we would like Michael to remain as we can achieve great things with this squad.”

Managing ones country is still an ultimate honour and the IFA will no doubt offer him a new pay hike to try and persuade him to stay on as their manager.

If he does indeed decide to leave his current role, it has been six years after all and can he do much better than he has done already? Then the next question O’Neill will have to ask himself is ‘to stay in international management or return to the club side of things?’

At Scotland, Micheal will have to try and do the same again.

He will be tasked with rejuvenating the countries fortunes on the international stage and restoring the pride in the national team from the supporters. Before Euro 2016 it was thirty years since Northern Ireland had reached a major finals, so he has clearly reached the required targets with them. Can he transfer those skills to another nation?

The Scotland squad does have potential to grow, they certainly aren’t any worse off from the Northern Ireland pool O’Neill inherited back in 2011. The main thing they lack is self belief and possibly a good central defensive partnership. Micheal could come in and at least give the players more confidence and self belief, if he can make Hearts forward¬†Kyle Lafferty look like a world beater then he must have some skill-set as a man-manager.

Getting Scotland to the next EURO’s would make Michael O’Neill a hero in two countries!

The man himself might want to return to full-time club work. We know certain international bosses crave the everyday aspect that you get as a club manager.

Rangers are historically classed as a big side in Northern Ireland and maybe O’Neill will look at the opportunity to try and return them to their former glories as too tempting to turn down.

The Gers squad actually aren’t as bad as Pedro managed to make them. They aren’t the best in Scotland but with the right gaffer they could be the second best side in the top flight this term. Like the Scotland team, the Rangers players need some TLC. Caixinha was a divisive character and the Gers stars didn’t seem to know where they were under him. Importantly the club’s fans didn’t see where the side was going with him in charge.

I’d imagine O’Neill would come in and bring a much needed focus, giving everyone in the set-up another chance to prove their worth to the team.

Both camps (Scotland & Rangers) will be eyeing up Micheal O’Neill and wondering if they should pounce but they might need to be quick.

The US are also looking out for a new head coach and have already been linked with the Portadown native. Sooner or later an English Premier League or Championship side will come calling too.

It might be a straight fight between the SFA and the Gers hierarchy if they identify O’Neill as their chosen man, who wins will come down to Micheal and his own ambitions.

 

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