Thursday, May 30, 2024

Aberdeen manager search: Michael O’Neill to stay with Northern Ireland

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Michael O’Neill is expected to stay with Northern Ireland despite interest from Aberdeen this month.

The Scottish Premiership club were keen to speak to the former Stoke City boss about the vacant role.

O’Neill’s contract with the IFA runs until 2028 and securing him would have required a hefty financial package.

It’s understood Aberdeen are still looking at several targets to become their next permanent manager, following Neil Warnock’s departure.

O’Neill is said to be committed to the IFA & is understood to be excited about the current group of young players.

Northern Ireland’s starting 11, with an average age of 23, recently beat Scotland and drew with Romania to build on November’s 2-0 win against Denmark.

O’Neill wants to give something back to the association, which made him their only target when replacing Ian Baraclough in 2022.

He has previously turned down the Scotland job to stay with Northern Ireland.

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Highlights of Aberdeen’s last Scottish Premiership match as they beat Motherwell

Warnock stepped down as interim on March 9, lasting just 34 days at Pittodrie. The 75-year-old had replaced Barry Robson on February 5 in a move designed to last until the end of this season.

On Thursday, chief executive Alan Burrows insisted Aberdeen were “entering the very final stages” of their search, despite having initially said they wanted to make an appointment during the international break.

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Journalist and Aberdeen fan Graham Hunter says he was ‘brutally upset’ Neil Warnock was appointed at the club and backs the decision to take time over finding a new manager.

He said: “Whilst this whole process has gone on longer than anyone would have hoped or anticipated, the key focus for us to ensure the accuracy of the appointment is right in the long term.

“Rather than panicking just to get us through a timescale, it’s important to get it right but hopefully the process isn’t going to take too much longer now.”

First-team coach Peter Leven remains in interim charge with Aberdeen now ninth in the Scottish Premiership – just three points clear of the relegation playoff place.

They face 11th-placed Ross County on Saturday at Pittodrie, then bottom club Livingston and Dundee before the league split, with a Scottish Cup semi-final at Hampden Park against Celtic coming up on April 20.

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