UK news Gareth McAuley: Grant McCann, Warren Feeney and Michael Duff are doing Northern Ireland proud... could David Healy get the call from elsewhere soon too? last news
PremierLeague-News.Com - It's been an exceptional season for some of my former Northern Ireland team-mates who have gone into management.
PremierLeague-News.Com - Breaking Sport Transfer News ! "It's been an exceptional season for some of my former Northern Ireland team-mates who have gone into management. Grant McCann has taken Hull City back into the Championship, Cheltenham, under the stewardship of Michael Duff, have gained promotion from League Two, Warren Feeney will be managing in Bulgaria's top flight next season after taking Pirin up, and David Healy's Linfield are well placed to win their fourth title in five years under him.Grant deserves immense praise for the fortitude he has shown to galvanise Hull less than 12 months after they were relegated to League One.Hull were in freefall last season after Grant basically had the rug pulled from under his feet when the club owners sold his star players in the January transfer window without giving him the opportunity or time to replace them.The Tigers were going for the Play-Offs until the owners felt there were offers for their players they simply couldn't refuse.It's incredible how a few players can affect the entire team but that's exactly what happened when Hull sold Jarrod Bowen to West Ham and Kamil Grasicki went to West Brom.I feared Hull could have continued to nosedive in League One, but Grant, having been with Peterborough and Doncaster in that division, knew exactly what it would take to get out of the League and the Hull owners showed tremendous faith in him by realising they had brought Hull's demise on themselves and to give Grant the opportunity to rectify it, which he has done in style - by winning the League yesterday.Grant has been helped hugely by Josh Magennis and his 19 goals for Hull this season which is probably his best return in club football.Hopefully promotion has opened the door for Northern Ireland internationals Magennis and Gavin Whyte, who is on loan from Cardiff City, to sign deals in the summer to keep them at Hull and give them a real crack at the Championship next season. I know both boys like working under Grant and it would be hugely beneficial to Northern Ireland to have Josh and Gavin playing regularly in the Championship.But Grant will need to strengthen to make an impact in the Championship and it will be interesting to see what support he receives. They certainly owe him a player or two.Grant's good mate Feeno will also be having a hectic summer as he prepares to play with the big boys of Bulgarian football next season.While it's been documented that Feeno was going into the unknown when he took over 18 months ago, that's not strictly true.Before he fully committed to the project, Feeno spoke at length to the people at the club, travelled out there and assessed the situation. He knew exactly what he was getting himself into and more importantly what he needed to do to make a success of his time at the club.He immediately built up contacts, scouted players and even learned a few Bulgarian words to make sure he got his message across.The Bulgarian style of play is quite slow, building from defence and having time on the ball.Feeno's attitude was that this culture needed a complete overhaul at Pirin and he was determined to ship out the players who couldn't play the British way of high tempo, press and being aggressive. He brought in experienced Bulgarians who had played outside the country and were used to the style Feeno wanted to implement.During lockdown, Feeno could quite easily have returned home but he remained focused on the project, the huge amount of work that needed to be done and now he is reaping the rewards.He did a lot on his own.Feeno will already be thinking about next season, the players he needs to bring in to strengthen his side and how, despite only gaining promotion, they can be serious title challengers.That is his mindset.There are some quality sides in the Bulgarian League - such as Ludogorets and CSKA Sofia, where Alan Pardew is Director of Football - and it will be exciting for Feeno to come up against these great clubs.In League Two, Duffer has made quite a name for himself and the main reason is that he was able to stabilise the club and then like Feeno bring in the players he wanted, on one-year deals, to have a go at promotion which he accomplished.
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.Stoke of bad luck as Michael O'Neill hindered by predecessorsMichael O'Neill must be so frustrated at Stoke City.Having started the season well, Stoke have really struggled in 2021.Yet Michael is still trying to manage a club with his hands tied behind his back.He is suffering because of previous managers giving players who aren't up to standard huge, big-money Premier League contracts. Players could be on £35,000 a week or even more and therefore Michael has no chance of moving these players on in the Championship or below.So he has to send them out on loan or they sit in the reserves but all the time it is eating into Michael's budget and as a result he can't bring in the decent players he wants because of the Financial Fair Play stipulations.And the players, even though they may not be getting any game time at all, aren't about to take a cut and move elsewhere. So Michael just has to wait for their contracts to run down so he can finally get rid and then build his own team. That's probably why the Stoke owners gave him a four-year contract, because they were only too aware it would take a few years for Michael to get a proper handle on the club.But I know Michael, he is an impatient person and he will not be happy. Yes, he's constantly trying to fight fires, but he will have great confidence in his own ability and believe Stoke should be doing better even with the restrictions.However, I feel it is only fair to judge Michael when he is no longer plagued by the poor decision-making of predecessors.A firm old challenge still awaitsThere is no such thing as a meaningless Old Firm derby.Rangers may have wrapped up the League title early and both teams are now out of the Scottish Cup but if there is one game in UK football that can be guaranteed to stir the emotions and be competitive and frenetic as ever, then it is a match between the two Glasgow clubs.It doesn't matter what has gone on before, it will be a long summer for whichever team fails to come out on top today.Steven Gerrard's men are now playing for their Rangers futures while some of the Celtic players will be looking to get noticed to move onto bigger and better things after a year to forget at Parkhead.Rangers still have their unbeaten run in the League to protect whereas Celtic will be desperate to avoid a season where they haven't been able to topple their cross-city rivals.Complacency and a lack of drive has maybe set in with Rangers since winning the League, but that is only natural when you reach your main target.The same happened when I was at West Brom after we reached 40 points each year to secure our Premier League safety.It doesn't matter how much the team tries to blank it out and stay focused, an edge is definitely taken away.Despite Rangers having the upper hand on Celtic in Old Firm games this year, after last week's Scottish Cup departure to St Johnstone, the Light Blues will have a point to prove and this is what should make this 'dead-rubber' encounter so intriguing.Celtic will have redemption on their mind.There is still plenty at stake whenever an Old Firm game comes around..."
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