Michael O’Neill touted as possible successor to Gordon Strachan as Scotland boss

Michael O'Neill
Michael O'Neill

Michael O’Neill has been touted as the best man to succeed Gordon Strachan as manager of Scotland

Strachan is expected to leave his post as Scottish boss as early as this week after Friday’s 3-0 defeat to England at Wembley continued a woeful World Cup qualifying campaign for the Scots.

Northern Ireland's Gareth McAuley (right) celebrates with team mates after scoring his sides second goal of the game during the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying, Group C match at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday November 11, 2016. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission

Northern Ireland's Gareth McAuley (right) celebrates with team mates after scoring his sides second goal of the game during the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying, Group C match at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday November 11, 2016. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission

The former Southampton and Celtic boss may stand down from the post as media pressure on him mounts after four years in the job.

Now Michael Grant, the Times’ well-informed Scottish football correspondent, has identified Northern Ireland boss O’Neill as the man with the credentials to succeed Strachan.

Writing in today’s Times, Grant highlights how O’Neill lives in Scotland and has built a great reputation with Northern Ireland, taking the Green and White Army to the Euros in France and starting the current World Cup qualifying campaign in positive fashion.

Grant wrote: Michael O’Neill’s alchemy with Northern Ireland is impossible to ignore. The SFA is surely about to start looking for a manager to do exactly what O’Neill already has. He’s only 47, lives in Edinburgh, knows the SPFL inside out and, in private conversation, he is informed and perceptive when he discusses the Scotland team. He looks a good fit, even if exactly the same was said of Strachan nearly four years ago.

Under-pressure Scotland boss Gordon Strachan

Under-pressure Scotland boss Gordon Strachan

“Would O’Neill be interested in becoming Scotland’s next saviour? It’ll soon be up to the SFA to find out.”

Northern Ireland fans need not start sweating just yet. O’Neill is not currently considered among the bookmakers’ favourites for the job. Alex McLeish is ranked favourite with David Moyes of Sunderland and Aberdeen’s Derek McInnes also among the hotly-tipped names.

O’Neill is ranked as a 40-1 outsider, behind the likes of Harry Redknapp and Neil Lennon. Let’s hope it stays that way!