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Ian Baraclough confirmed as new Northern Ireland manager


Ian Baraclough managed Motherwell and Sligo Rovers before taking over as NI U21 boss in 2017

Ian Baraclough has been confirmed as the new Northern Ireland manager following talks over the past 24 hours involving his agent and the Irish FA.

The 49-year-old’s appointment was ratified at an IFA Board meeting on Saturday after terms had been agreed.

It is believed that his contract will be until the end of the 2022 World Cup qualifying campaign.

Baraclough will succeed Michael O’Neill, who appointed the Englishman as his Under-21 manager in 2017.

The appointment will provide the Irish FA with the continuity they said they were looking for following O’Neill’s departure to Championship club Stoke City.

Five candidates were interviewed for the job but Baraclough emerged as the IFA’s choice to take the squad into the forthcoming Euro 2021 play-offs, plus the Nations League and World Cup qualifying campaigns.

Nations League and Euro play-off for starters

His first two matches in charge will be in the Nations League – away to Romania on 4 September and home to Norway three days later – followed by the Euro play-off away to Bosnia-Herzegovina on 8 October.

He will become only the second Englishman – and second non-Northern Irishman – to manage Northern Ireland, the other being Lawrie McMenemy, who was in charge from 1998 to 1999.

The former Queens Park Rangers defender had stepped up his involvement with the senior team in recent months after O’Neill took over at Stoke.

In making their choice, the IFA follow the example of England and the Republic of Ireland in promoting their Under-21 manager to the senior post, with Gareth Southgate and Stephen Kenny having followed a similar career trajectory.

Motherwell manager Stephen Robinson, ex-St Johnstone boss Tommy Wright, IFA elite performance director Jim Magilton and Northern Ireland women’s manager Kenny Shiels were also interviewed for the post on Wednesday.

Coaching CV includes England, Scotland and Republic of Ireland

Baraclough is Northern Ireland’s most successful Under-21 boss and previously managed Sligo Rovers to the League of Ireland title.

He also secured an FAI Cup success and a Setanta Cup triumph as he revived the club’s fortunes when he took over in February 2012.

This was followed by a move to Motherwell, where he helped ensure the club’s Premiership survival thanks to a two-legged promotion/relegation play-off win over Rangers.

Baraclough has also managed in England at Scunthorpe United, where he finished his playing career, and his CV also includes a spell as an assistant at Oldham Athletic.

Ian Baraclough and Stephen Robinson worked together at Motherwell and Oldham Athletic

Robinson, a fellow contender for the Northern Ireland position, was assistant to Baraclough at Motherwell, before the roles were reversed at Oldham.

Baraclough guided Northern Ireland’s Under-21 side to eye-catching victories over Spain and Iceland during his first campaign in charge.

His young charges finished second in their qualifying group for the 2019 Euro Under-21 Championships, narrowly missing out on a play-off place on the final night of the campaign.

He has already worked with many of the younger crop of the current senior Northern Ireland squad, including Bailey Peacock-Farrell, Jamal Lewis, Liam Donnelly, Jordan Thompson, Gavin Whyte and Mark Sykes.

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