Former Celtic striker Chris Sutton believes that Ireland manager Martin O’Neill is the perfect man to lead Stoke’s survival bid.
The Potters are currently hunting for a new manager having sacked Mark Hughes just hours after the side’s FA Cup exit at the hands of League Two outfit Coventry City, and O’Neill has been installed as the bookmakers’ favourite to return to club management after a near-five year absence.
Writing in his Daily Mail column, Sutton, who worked under O’Neill at Celtic at the beginning of this century, believes O’Neill’s man-management is precisely what Stoke need right now. He also thinks that his time at Ireland has perhaps run its course.
“Stoke need someone who will roll up his sleeves, get the team organised, make them hard to beat and breathe life into these players. Martin is an incredibly positive character and this job would appeal to him.
“I suspect he would like to get back into club management at the highest level and while Stoke may be a salvage mission, it is by no means impossible.
“I think he has done all he can with Ireland – he has taken them as far as he can. In many ways he has overachieved with a group of average players.”
Stoke are believed to have placed O’Neill and Derby County manager Gary Rowett at the top of their shortlist to replace, and while it remains to be seen if the former would fancy another crack at the Premier League at 65 (66 in March), prising the latter away from Pride Park could prove trickier.
O’Neill agreed a new two-year deal to stay on as Ireland manager for the Euro 2020 qualification campaign, but that contract remains unsigned with the former Sunderland boss considering his future in the wake of the chastening World Cup playoff defeat to Denmark.