Michael O’Neill has cause for concern after latest disappointing result

Northern Ireland's Niall McGinn with Malta's Andrew Cohen
Northern Ireland's Niall McGinn with Malta's Andrew Cohen

Michael O’Neill was forced to admit Northern Ireland’s dry run of 12 games without a win has sparked cause for concern.

O’Neill continues to search for his first win since taking up the reins last January following Wednesday night’s drab goalless draw against Malta in Valletta.

The 43-year-old former midfielder has now gone eight games without victory – his record comprises of five draws and three defeats.

“You want to win games, simple as that,” O’Neill said in the aftermath of last night’s disappointing stalemate.

“We’ve had eight games, we’ve had five draws and three defeats.

We’ve had some very difficult games in there. Of course it’s a concern but at the end of the day the only people who can change that are myself and the players and I’m aware of that.”

O’Neill’s men had the capacity to boss Wednesday night’s game confidently, but never truly took charge of proceedings

Following the draw, O’Neill added that next month’s World Cup qualifier against Russia will be a much tougher challenge.

“The reality is we probably won’t control the level of the game against Russia in the same way so it’s going to be totally different.

“It gives me an indication of where the younger players are at,” he added.

“You would maybe like to give them a little bit more time before asking them to step up into a game like that.”