Former Scotland manager Craig Brown believes Michael O’Neill is exactly what Scotland need.
The SFA has approached its Northern Irish counterpart for permission to speak to O’Neill about the vacant Scotland job.
Aberdeen director Brown was the last man to lead Scotland to the finals of a major tournament at the World Cup in France in 1998 and he believes former Brechin City and Shamrock Rovers boss O’Neill can repeat the success he has had with Northern Ireland in the dark blue of Scotland.
Brown said: “I think he’s eminently suitable for the job. He’s got a very good international CV, particularly good with European football, and it’s exactly what Scotland need.
“He’s picking players from the lower echelons of both England and Scotland with minimal resources. I think the Scotland resources should be better, so I would think he would do equally well or better with Scotland.”
O’Neill won only one of his first 18 matches in charge of Northern Ireland but has won 17 and drawn eight of his 35 matches since September 2014 and Brown believes adapting to the demands of Scottish football would not be an issue should O’Neill be enticed to switch roles to Scotland. He said: “He lives in Scotland, so he will have seen what Gordon Strachan has been subjected to. He will have to make his name in Scotland.”
O’Neill, who led Northern Ireland to the European championship finals last year, failed to repeat the feat in the World Cup with Switzerland’s 1-0 aggregate win ending Northern Irish dreams of playing in Russia next year.
The ball is now in the court of the Irish FA, which has O’Neill under contract until the end of the next European championship campaign. The Hampden move has come soon after Northern Ireland narrowly missed out on their first World Cup finals appearance since 1986 following a controversial two-legged defeat by Switzerland.
The former Hibs, Dundee United and Aberdeen player signed a new contract with Northern Ireland in March last year, which takes him to June 2020, and the SFA is not alone in courting his services.
Sunderland and the United States have been linked with a move for the 48-year-old, as have Rangers, who say they will draw up a shortlist for their own vacancy next week.
O’Neill’s Northern Ireland assistants are also based in Scotland. Scot Austin MacPhee is assistant manager at Hearts, while Jimmy Nicholl is at Falkirk.