M
SM
Thursday, December 12
Collect News Data
/esi/1339/6_A_1_378938_0/index.html?art_id=378938&ESI

Michael Smith insists impending Michael O'Neill exit has not affected NI

:Headline: Michael Smith insists impending Michael O'Neill exit has not affected NI:
O'Neill was announced as Stoke's new manager last week.
PA | 28d

Michael Smith insisted Michael O'Neill's impending departure has had no effect on the mood within the Northern Ireland squad ahead of their Euro 2020 qualifiers against Holland and Germany.

O'Neill was announced as Stoke's new manager last week, earning a 4-2 win over Barnsley in his first game.

But he will remain in charge of the Green and White Army until the end of their Euro 2020 qualifying campaign, whether that ends in the next seven days or extends into March.

Northern Ireland face Holland in Belfast on Saturday and Germany in Frankfurt on Tuesday in their final Group C fixtures, knowing automatic qualification is highly unlikely but they are currently well placed for the play-offs.

For many in the squad, including Smith, O'Neill is the only international manager they have known as he has led Northern Ireland since 2012, but aside from a short discussion he said it has been business as usual for the team this week.

"We had a brief meeting and he just said 'Thank you' and said without the players here he wouldn't have had the opportunity to go and take the job at Stoke," defender Smith said.

"Then it was basically straight to business with two tough games coming, and we need to win them."

The Hearts right-back said there was no surprise that O'Neill was finally heading into the club game, having been linked with several vacancies since guiding Northern Ireland to Euro 2016.

"You look at the job he's done with limited resources, we've really probably overachieved in the last few years but we're still doing it," he said.

  1. Holland - 15 points
  2. Germany - 15
  3. Northern Ireland - 12
  4. Belarus - 4
  5. Estonia - 1

"It was only a matter of time before he took one of those jobs. The timing's probably right."

It might have happened sooner, but Smith believes it was never going to be an easy move for the 50-year-old.

"It will be hard for him to leave this," Smith said. "He's built something special here and for him to leave it and take another job is probably a massive decision for him.

"He's felt it's the right time and everyone supports him in that. He's done all he can here and no one can say anything bad about him."

Automatic qualification for Euro 2020 is not yet impossible for Northern Ireland if highly unlikely, and Smith said the focus was on winning Saturday's meeting with Ronald Koeman's side at Windsor Park to keep those faint chances alive.

“It was only a matter of time before he took one of those jobs. The timing's probably right”
- Michael Smith on Michael O'Neill taking over at Stoke

"It has to be, otherwise we're not going to come out in these two games and perform well," he said.

"We haven't spoken about the play-offs this week at all. It's solely on Holland first, and then we'll turn our attention to Germany."

The Holland game will be of double importance not only to keep those slim automatic hopes alive but also as it likely to be O'Neill's final home game in charge, subject to a change in the play-off permutations.

Northern Ireland can take encouragement from their performance in Rotterdam, where Holland needed two stoppage-time goals to complete a come-from-behind 3-1 win last month, and would dearly love to send O'Neill off in style.

"He's had an incredible eight years," Smith said. "He says probably the one thing missing from his CV here is a really big scalp, so that would be fantastic to send him off from Windsor that way."

body check tags ::
amp_article_378938 : Collect and Make Data not in DataBase  : 
last updated article - 2019-11-14 17:07:18:
html db last update - 2019-12-11 04:09:50 :

ex - 7200 : read : write cache and make html

Click here for more stories about Michael Smith

Click here for more stories about Northern Ireland

Share this article now:

Subscribe to our Newsletter


Transfer Talk Daily
Match previews - twice weekly
Morning Briefing (7am UTC)
UC
Get the latest transfer news, match previews and news direct to your inbox!
Recommended Next on SM
Jonny Evans pays tribute to "unbelievable" NI boss Michael O'Neill
Juve chief rules out January Pogba move
Man United 'still favourites for Haaland deal'
Steven Davis keen to move on from penalty miss ahead of return to Netherlands
Premier League Table
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Liverpool16151040142646
2Leicester CityLeicester16122239102938
3Manchester CityMan City16102444192532
4Chelsea169253124729
5Manchester UnitedMan Utd166642519624
6Wolverhampton WanderersWolves165922319424
7Tottenham HotspurSpurs166553023723
8Sheffield UnitedSheff Utd165741916322
9Arsenal165742424022
10Crystal Palace166461418-422
11Newcastle UnitedNewcastle166461723-622
12Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton165472024-419
13Burnley165382129-818
14Everton165291928-917
15Bournemouth164481824-616
16West Ham UnitedWest Ham164481828-1016
17Aston Villa164392328-515
18Southampton164391835-1715
19Norwich CityNorwich1632111734-1711
20Watford16169930-219
Scroll for more - Tap for full version

Subscribe to our Newsletter


Transfer Talk Daily
Match previews - twice weekly
Morning Briefing (7am UTC)
UC
Get the latest transfer news, match previews and news direct to your inbox!

Loading ...

Failed to load data.

Premier League Table
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Liverpool16151040142646
2Leicester CityLeicester16122239102938
3Manchester CityMan City16102444192532
4Chelsea169253124729
5Manchester UnitedMan Utd166642519624
6Wolverhampton WanderersWolves165922319424
7Tottenham HotspurSpurs166553023723
8Sheffield UnitedSheff Utd165741916322
9Arsenal165742424022
10Crystal Palace166461418-422
11Newcastle UnitedNewcastle166461723-622
12Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton165472024-419
13Burnley165382129-818
14Everton165291928-917
15Bournemouth164481824-616
16West Ham UnitedWest Ham164481828-1016
17Aston Villa164392328-515
18Southampton164391835-1715
19Norwich CityNorwich1632111734-1711
20Watford16169930-219
Scroll for more - Tap for full version
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
X

We value your privacy

A part of our GDPR compliance we need to ask for your consent. We and our partners use technology such as cookies on Sports Mole to personalise content and ads, provide social media features, and analyse our traffic. Click below to consent to the use of this technology on Sports Mole.