Northern Ireland boss Ian Baraclough likened his replacement of former manager Martin O’Neill to replace Alex Ferguson at Old Trafford. He says he cannot put into words how big an achievement it was to take Northern Ireland to Euro 2016. That generation of Northern Ireland heroes has aged but a new generation with a mix of youth and experience has emerged. The current national team comprises players from some of the best academies in Europe.

“We are on a new cycle now, with a younger element,” Northern Ireland boss Ian Baraclough said. “For the Euros, I was probably working with Michael’s team. The pool of the players is greater now, there is more energy and I think the senior players welcome that. With the senior players nurturing these youngsters, there is a good blend. People thought it would be the end of an era. They wondered what we were going to do for the next 10 years. Hopefully, people now see that this does not necessarily have to be the case.”

“Replacing Michael was a privilege and a massive challenge. But we are in a really good place and we have an opportunity now. To go there and get a result away in Switzerland would rank alongside anything that I have achieved in football.” he added. “As a father to four daughters now myself, I understand much more what my dad had to go through to help us all to become men.”

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