Michael O'Neill not distracted by links with West Brom job
Last Updated: 21/05/19 5:17pm
Michael O'Neill says he is not distracted by talks linking him with West Brom, insisting his focus remains on Northern Ireland's European Qualifiers.
It is a crucial time for Northern Ireland as they prepare in Manchester for trips to Estonia and Belarus next month, having won their opening two qualifiers, in a strong position to qualify for next year's tournament.
O'Neill, who signed a contract extension with Northern Ireland until 2024 last year after turning down interest from Scotland, has recently been linked with the West Brom role, but maintains he is not allowing anything to detract from preparations.
"It's always nice to be linked with other vacancies, and I'm sure there's a number of managers that West Brom are looking to speak to; they're a club with a lot of potential," O'Neill told Sky Sports.
"I've been in this job, Northern Ireland manager, for sevens years, and in that period there's been a number of approaches that have been made.
"At that time I haven't felt it's been the right thing to do, and at this minute in time as we're here in Manchester preparing for our games in June, my focus is purely on the team and preparing the team as well as we can for the games in Estonia and Belarus.
"I think it's important to focus on the job that you're in. It's nice to be linked with other vacancies but my focus is on getting the team ready for these two difficult games."
O'Neill admitted that being in charge of his country of birth makes it harder for him to ever consider leaving, but says he also feels secure in his position given the faith shown in him by the Irish Football Association.
"When you're managing your home country it's a difficult situation to leave that job," said the 49-year-old.
"I've been in this job seven years, I've worked very hard to make success with the team, to build a team that I think can certainly challenge to go to major tournaments.
"We've done that with the Euros and with the World Cup play-off, we want to do that again in Euro 2020 as well.
"I have a lot of stability in my job, I have a good relationship with the IFA, there's a lot of transparency there. I signed a long-term contract as well which was important for both parties.
"When you talk about club football, there's a lot more instability in club football. As a manager you're looking for that stability."
Watch Northern Ireland's upcoming Euro 2020 qualifiers against Estonia (June 8 from 4.15pm) and Belarus (June 11 from 7pm) live on Sky Sports.