Sanchez future in doubt after IFA crisis talks

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The Independent Online

Lawrie Sanchez's future as the Northern Ireland manager remains in doubt after the Irish Football Association held crisis talks on the matter last night.

IFA officials arranged the meeting after reports that Sanchez was set to quit despite his team's stunning 3-2 Euro 2008 qualifier win over Spain on Wednesday.

Before going into the meeting, the IFA president Jim Boyce had said that he had been unable to contact Sanchez. The Northern Ireland manager is attending a family funeral today.

"He [Sanchez] hasn't responded to my phone calls although I understand today that he's under a lot of pressure," Boyce said. "He has a family funeral [on Friday] but I am hoping I get the opportunity to speak to him. Whether Lawrie wants that opportunity or not is really up to him."

Earlier in the day, Boyce had expressed optimism that Sanchez would see out the remainder of his contract but the IFA president's inability to contact the manager will increase suspicions that the former Wycombe Wanderers manager could be about to depart.

Boyce had confirmed that there was a "problem" but refused to elaborate on the issue.

The Northern Ireland manager left the ground immediately without speaking to the media after his side defeated Spain at Windsor Park.

The IFA chief executive Howard Wells had also refused to comment on speculation that Sanchez was set to quit but Wells did admit that there were "some issues which need to be sorted out".

The IFA chief cited "personal reasons" for the manager's non-appearance at a post-match press conference ­ presumably the recent family bereavement.

Sanchez suffered criticism from press and supporters following the 3-0 defeat by Iceland in their opening Euro 2008 qualifying match on Saturday but a hat-trick by David Healy enabled his side to come from behind twice to beat the Spaniards.

After the final whistle, Sanchez threw his IFA blazer and tie into the crowd, a gesture which some perceived as a farewell to the Windsor Park fans.

Wells said: "We are in the process of resolving some issues and will issue a statement if and when we have something to say.

"Football in Northern Ireland and the future of the national team is the priority and I hope the issues can be sorted out.

"Some of the media were severe in their criticism of him after the defeat by Iceland and that is where all this speculation started," the association's chief executive added.

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