Northern Ireland boss Ian Baraclough has been sacked as manager after just over two years in charge; The country narrowly avoided relegation to League D of the Nations League earlier this year
Friday 21 October 2022 14:37, UK
Ian Baraclough has been sacked as manager of Northern Ireland after narrowly avoiding relegation to the bottom tier of the Nations League.
Baraclough has lost 14 of his 28 games in charge, beating only Lithuania, Kosovo, Estonia, Malta and Luxembourg during his two-year reign.
Despite that, the former Scunthorpe manager began his tenure helping his adopted country to the cusp of qualifying for Euro 2020, taking over after Michael O'Neill had led them into the play-offs through the Nations League before they were beaten by Slovakia in extra time of the final.
It took 11 games and almost a year in charge before Baraclough tasted victory over 90 minutes, and managing just two wins over Lithuania in World Cup 2022 qualifying saw them finish seven points off a play-off place.
Things were little better in the Nations League, where he oversaw Northern Ireland's relegation from League B in 2020/21, before they only avoided back-to-back demotions in League C by finishing ahead of Cyrus on goal difference.
The Irish Football Association now have time on their side to choose their new manager ahead of their next game, a trip to San Marino in Euro 2024 qualifying, which is more than five months away in March 2023.
In a statement, their chief executive Patrick Nelson said: "Under Ian's stewardship we have seen the introduction of new players who will wear the green jersey with pride for years to come and for this we place on record our gratitude.
"However, in light of the overall record of results on the pitch, the Irish FA board has subsequently taken this decision. We wish Ian the very best for the future and thank him for his contribution to football in Northern Ireland."
Sky Sports News' Paul Gilmour:
"He's been in the role for 28 months after replacing the popular Michael O'Neill. He was always going to find it difficult, not just replacing him, but coming in at a time of Covid and playing in empty stadiums, with players not being available through illness.
"His main brief, with a squad which was becoming older, was to bring through young players - he gave game time to the likes of Connor Bradley, the young Liverpool player, and worked really hard with the younger players and their families to show this was the right path for them and that they could have great international futures with Northern Ireland.
"Ultimately the decision was made on results on the pitch, and that's where there's been a lot of fan unrest, and people starting to get on the back of the manager.
"The most recent Nations League campaign is probably what has done the most damage because Northern Ireland dropped into League C and were being talked about as favourites to win the group - but just about survived relegation from it.
"Losing to Kosovo, drawing twice with Cyprus, they were losing games that under O'Neill they would've won comfortably, although the flipside is that there were moments where you could see progress; drawing 0-0 against newly crowned European Champions Italy, for instance.
"There were moments, but ultimately the Irish FA have acted on results. It was tough for him, he didn't always have as good luck with injuries as O'Neill did, and that's worked against him."
Northern Ireland's Euro 2024 qualifying campaign:
San Marino vs Northern Ireland - March 23, 2023
Northern Ireland vs Finland - March 26, 2023
Denmark vs Northern Ireland - June 16, 2023
Northern Ireland vs Kazakhstan - June 19, 2023
Slovenia vs Northern Ireland - September 7, 2023
Kazakhstan vs Northern Ireland - September 10, 2023
Northern Ireland vs San Marino - October 14, 2023
Northern Ireland vs Slovenia - October 17, 2023
Finland vs Northern Ireland - November 17, 2023
Northern Ireland vs Denmark - November 20, 2023