Northern Irish fans urged to back Michael O’Neill

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NORTHERN Ireland supporters’ chief Gary McAllister has called for the Green and White Army to throw their support behind new national manager Michael O’Neill.

The former Shamrock Rovers manager was confirmed as Nigel Worthington’s successor by the Irish Football Association on Wednesday, beating Jim Magilton and Iain Dowie to the job, and will start work on 1 February.

Worthington’s four-and-a-half-year reign ended in disappointment but McAllister, chairman of the Amalgamation of Northern Ireland Supporters’ Clubs, wants everybody to get behind the new appointment.

“I think the relationship with the manager over the last year was at a very low ebb, but we need to look forward not keep looking back,” said McAllister. “As fans we’ve not had too much to celebrate in the last year but now is time to look forward. We all need to get behind Michael O’Neill.”

O’Neill, who also had a stint in Scotland with Brechin, performed admirably in his time at Shamrock, winning back-to-back League of Ireland titles and creating history by leading the club into the group stages of the Europa League, but his CV lacks the top job in England or Scotland that many felt would be a necessary requirement.

“Maybe some people will say there were some more high-profile candidates but, by the end of his reign, we hope Michael O’Neill’s profile will be just as high as any of them,” said McAllister.