Football: Fans disillusioned by McMenemy

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The Independent Online
NORTHERN IRELAND fans are calling for the resignation of the country's manager, Lawrie McMenemy, after Tuesday's embarrassing 1-1 draw in a friendly against international minnows Canada.

Disgruntled supporters have had enough, as demonstrated by the boos that rang round Windsor Park at the end of this latest humiliation.

An own-goal from Brad Parker gave the Irish a 1-1 draw and prevented them from even greater shame, but that was of little comfort to the fans.

Following the debacle against a team ranked nearly 30 places lower than the Irish in the Fifa standings, supporters have been bombarding the Internet calling for McMenemy to be sacked.

"McMenemy out" and "the worst game I have ever experienced at Windsor Park" summed up the tone of the angry messages.

McMenemy claimed he "appreciated their disappointment", but the fans want his head rather than his sympathy.

They are unhappy that Northern Ireland's Euro 2000 qualifying campaign has fizzled out after just five games.

Martin Harris, the former secretary of the Northern Ireland Football Supporters Association, feels that McMenemy should be sacked and replaced by someone from the province, such as Jimmy Nicholl or Sammy McIlroy.

Harris, who was one of the handful of supporters who travelled to see Northern Ireland play in Spain and Moldova, feels the fans have lost faith in McMenemy.

"There's growing disquiet among the fanzines and the general feeling that I'm picking up is one of disillusionment. We're out of the European Championships and only a total optimist thinks we still have any chance."

Harris added: "I think the IFA [Irish Football Association] should buy him out of his contract and get somebody else in. The new man would then have a few competitive games to prepare for the next World Cup campaign.

"McMenemy has managed just one competitive win in five games and he's just not the man for the job.

"I would like to see a local man in charge like Jimmy Nicholl or Sammy McIlroy.

"At least they would know what our players are like and how to work with them."

The IFA is most unlikely to bow to the demands of the fans and the president, Jim Boyce, stated after the 3-0 home defeat by Germany that McMenemy would remain until the end of the qualifying campaign when his contract is due to be reviewed.

However, as Northern Ireland's embarrassment grows under McMenemy, it is becoming less and less likely that he and his management team of the former Scottish international Joe Jordan and goalkeeping coach Pat Jennings, the former Tottenham and Arsenal player, will be offered new contracts.