Michael O’Neill highlights Stoke City potential as ‘right time’ for club return

Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill. Pic by Pacemaker.
Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill. Pic by Pacemaker.
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Michael O’Neill considered the potential of Stoke City as the “right time” for his return to club football.

O’Neill will remain as Northern Ireland boss for EURO 2020 qualifiers with the Netherlands and Germany but takes charge of the Sky Bet Championship’s bottom side Stoke for the first time this weekend against Barnsley.

O’Neill has also confirmed a decision to guide Northern Ireland across any potential European Championship play-off test in March and will return to his international commitments ahead of next Saturday’s Windsor Park visit by Holland before a trip to Frankfurt to tackle Germany on Tuesday, November 19.

“I’ve had opportunities that haven’t come to fruition and opportunities that weren’t right for me based on the circumstances,” said O’Neill on the official Stoke City website. “When this opportunity came I felt it was the right time in my career to go back into club football.

“Whilst not in its strongest position at this minute in time, it has previously spent 10 years in the Premier League.

“In this day and age as a British coach you typically have to manage your team into the Premier League.

“This is a club that certainly has the potential to go back to that type of level.

“Ultimately, looking at the whole infrastructure, the passion the supporters have...I think there are a lot of good players at this club.

“Hopefully it’s just a case of steering everything and getting us going in the right direction.

“As an international manager of a small nation like Northern Ireland you are used to having to punch above your weight.

“Over those eight years we’ve had quite a successful period for a nation of our size.

“That was a massive challenge with quite limited resources at times.

“Here obviously the resources are not limited whatsoever...everything is here to build a top-class football club.

“We have to get everyone aligned to that and thinking in the same way.”