Michael O’Neill confirmed as new Stoke City boss – but will stay with Northern Ireland’s Euro 2020 games

The Potters need a big rescue act to survive another relegation

Karl Matchett
Friday 08 November 2019 14:13
Michael O'Neill took Northern Ireland to a major tournament for the first time in 30 years
Michael O'Neill took Northern Ireland to a major tournament for the first time in 30 years

Stoke City have confirmed the appointment of Michael O’Neill as manager, replacing former boss Nathan Jones.

The Potters parted ways with Jones earlier this month and have now agreed a deal with the Irish Football Association to take O’Neill with immediate effect – though he will return for Northern Ireland‘s Euro 2020 qualifiers.

Stoke’s statement clarified that O’Neill is already in place to take training on Friday and will be in charge for the weekend EFL Championship match against Barnsley.

But thereafter, he will revert to taking charge of Northern Ireland’s fixtures against Netherlands and Germany, on Saturday and Tuesday respectively.

If play-offs are required for Northern Ireland in their quest to reach a second consecutive European Championships, O’Neill will also oversee those.

“Naturally, we are extremely disappointed that Michael is leaving us,” read a statement from IFA Chief Executive Patrick Nelson.

“However we are delighted all parties have agreed Michael will be in charge of the Northern Ireland team for the games against Netherlands and Germany and potential Euro 2020 play-off matches next March.

“Everyone in the GAWA family is grateful for Michael’s inspirational contribution over the past eight years.

Stoke have work to do to save their season

“After a difficult start to his managerial reign with Northern Ireland he honed an excellent squad and took us to the Round of 16 at Euro 2016, our first major tournament in 30 years. And, of course, he also took us to a play-off for World Cup Russia 2018 and the team have performed extremely well during the Euro 2020 qualification campaign.”

The challenge for O’Neill at Stoke begins immediately, in comfortably his most high-profile club-level job, after previous spells with Brechin City and Shamrock Rovers.

Stoke have just two wins and eight points from 15 games, are six points from safety at the bottom of the Championship and, in O’Neill’s first opponents Barnsley, face the team directly above them in the table on Saturday.

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