US could hijack Scottish FA's bid to land Michael O'Neill

Adjust Comment Print

Scotland could yet face competition from club sides in England or America - O'Neill has a brother in Chicago and would be interested in managing in the MLS - although his name is also believed to have been floated in relation to the United States national team job.

Michael O'Neill was understandably in no mood to discuss his future as Northern Ireland manager after they were a Ricardo Rodriguez goal-line clearance away from a last-minute equaliser in their World Cup play-off defeat to Switzerland on Sunday evening.

Despite qualifying for the play-offs, Northern Ireland couldn't overturn a 1-0 deficit from the first leg against Switzerland.

The seldom-seen right-back, then, would surely be more than happy to see a manager who knows and trusts him get the job at Ibrox.

The SFA want to include Austin MacPhee, the Northern Ireland assistant, on the backroom team if they appoint O'Neill.

One fan, 31-year-old Noel Boyd from Ballykelly in Co Londonderry, described O'Neill as "a bit of a genius" and said he hopes he will stay on with Northern Ireland. "It's only natural that other parties are going to be interested in him because he has done so well".

"He's so inspirational and he's very tactical", said Evans, who had an added time header cleared off the line in Monday's goalless second leg against the Swiss, which gave them a 1-0 aggregate win.

"It's huge what Michael has done - everyone sees the results and the performances on the pitch but you also have to look at what he has done throughout the association [Irish Football Association] and the new players he is getting in". We would love him to stay but I'm sure there will be interest elsewhere. But they have time to make that decision.

O'Neill said his players would still feel hard done by, after the decision from Romanian referee Ovidiu Hategan to award Switzerland a penalty when Xherdan Shaqiri's volley struck Corry Evans on the shoulder from point-blank range.

Aaron Hughes, Gareth McAuley, Chris Brunt and Jamie Ward, all starters in Basel, could now contemplate global retirement, particularly if O'Neill is lured away by either Scotland or a club side.

"All good things have to come to an end at some stage", said Brunt. The Daily Record reported last month that the 48-year-old was a candidate to replace Pedro Caixinha at Ibrox. I'll take my time and think about it. It would have been nice to top it off with the World Cup, but it wasn't to be. "I'm as gutted as I've ever been in my football career".