Ian Baraclough admits he did not expect to succeed Michael O’Neill as NI boss

    Ian Baraclough has actually taken over from Michael O’Neill as Northern Ireland manager.

    Ian Baraclough has actually confessed he often utilized to think Michael O’Neill was joking when he informed him to get himself all set to take control of as Northern Ireland manager.

    Baraclough was this weekend called as O’Neill’s follower, raised from his role as under-21 s manager after beating off competition from Jim Magilton, Tommy Wright, Kenny Shiels and his own former boss and buddy Stephen Robinson.

    However Baraclough emerged as first option thanks to his success with the under-21 s, paired with an increasing existence around the senior set-up: going to training school, handling key assisting and scouting functions with advance preparation.

    Welcome, IanBaraclough Your new Northern Ireland manager! #GAWA

    — Northern Ireland (@NorthernIreland) June 27, 2020

    “I think probably on a couple of occasions I spoke to Michael, I thought he was joking at times but he was saying, ‘Are you ready? You’d better get yourself ready’,” Baraclough stated.

    ” It was taken with a little light-heartedness. I definitely never ever took it for given. I didn’t have the expectation to be the follower to Michael at all.

    “When I got asked to interview (for the job) I took it very, very seriously in my preparation, how I put together a presentation, and hopefully that shone through.”

    The 49- year-old former Scunthorpe and Motherwell boss takes control of a team possibly 2 games far from a second major competition in 5 years as they prepare to deal with Bosnia and Herzegovina in a Euro 2020 play- off qualifier in October.

    And Baraclough hopes his familiarity with the senior set-up makes him the perfect man to finish the work O’Neill began.

    Michael O’Neill stepped down in April to concentrate on his role as Stoke boss (Nick Potts/PA)

    “The three years with the under-21s has been a learning curve, I’ve had to adapt as a coach and a manager,” he stated.

    “It’s allowed me to get to know a lot of the characters among the players and staff. There’s also a bit of continuity for the younger players coming from the under-21s – hopefully they see a friendly face there.”

    However though Baraclough is keen to put his own stamp on the team, he stated fans needs to not expect to see an unexpected increase of children entering the senior set-up.

    “There’s a good amount of them there already,” he stated. “There’s 11 players who had fun with me in the under-21 s who have actually currently made their launchings with the senior team and those players have actually handled to get some excellent experience.

    ” However we have actually got players with experience, players with understanding of how to win games at this level, players utilized to entering into pressure-cooker scenarios and the young players have to find out that.

    Jamal Lewis and Gavin Whyte have actually both finished to the senior side from the under-21 s (Liam McBurney/PA)

    “And if that means they remain a little longer with the under-21s then so be it.”

    Rather, Baraclough stated there would be couple of surprises in the squad he names for his first games in charge– Nations League contests against Romania and Norway in September.

    “This team isn’t broken, this team is working very, very well despite the last few games against tough opposition in Germany and Holland,” he stated.

    ” We’ll be entering into the Romania game and the Norway game most likely with a familiar-looking squad.

    “People might be looking to the squad for many radical changes. ‘How many U21s is he bringing in?’ But there’s probably 40 players we’re choosing from.”

    Baraclough means to speak to Ollie Norwood about a prospective international return (Anthony Devlin/PA)

    One player Baraclough would like to add to that number is Sheffield United midfielder Ollie Norwood.

    The 29- year-old midfielder retired from international football last summer however Baraclough will attempt to lure him back.

    “As manager of this country it would be remiss of me not to put that call in,” he stated. “Whether Ollie sees these reports and turns his phone off, that’s up to him.

    “If I didn’t ask, if I didn’t pick up the phone, then I don’t think I’d be doing my job properly.”

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