Football/Soccer

I have the experience to succeed Michael O'Neill says Jim Magilton

Along with the likes of current Northern Ireland U21 boss Ian Baraclough and Motherwell manager Stephen Robinson, Jim Magilton is in the frame to succeed Michael O'Neill. Picture by Hugh Russell
Neil Loughran

JIM Magilton believes his knowledge of the players coming through the ranks in Northern Ireland should make him a leading contender for the top job once Michael O’Neill steps aside.

Ballymena man O’Neill was named Stoke City manager last November, on the understanding he would still see out Northern Ireland’s Euro 2020 qualification campaign. They take on Bosnia on March 26 and, should they come through that tie, face the winner of Slovakia and the Republic of Ireland in Belfast on March 31.

With O’Neill’s departure imminent, the Irish Football Association (IFA) is continuing its search for a successor. Current elite performance director Magilton, U21 boss Ian Baraclough and Motherwell manager Stephen Robinson are among those in the frame.

Magilton, who turned down the opportunity to take over at Scottish Premiership side Hibernian last year, feels he has the experience and know-how to pick up where O’Neill leaves off.

“I know I have the knowledge and that bank of experience, and I know every lad coming through,” said the former Southampton and Ipswich Town midfielder, who won 52 caps for Northern Ireland.

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“I’ve played at every level, I’ve coached and managed and assisted at every level. The Uefa tournaments elevate your experience because you’re watching these young players develop and the way the game is going.

“The last five years as elite performance director have been a tremendous upward curve for me, learning all the time, developing strategies and trying to implement some of the things I’ve done first hand.”

Considering the huge strides Northern Ireland have made since O’Neill took over from Nigel Worthington in 2011, however, Magilton expects there will be a huge level of interest in the job.

He said: “What Michael has achieved, and where he has put Northern Ireland in terms of football credibility, him and the players have taken it to another level.

“When Michael picks his squad, they’re all here, because they know that with the support staff he’s put in place, they’re getting best practice. Whoever’s walking into that, there’s very little tinkering that needs to be done.

“You can see Michael’s stamp all over that team, and the response from that team to Michael has been huge. If it’s not me, it’s going to be one of 200 other applicants.”

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Football/Soccer