Leeds United ace says Stoke City are in good hands



Stoke City have a manager with a track record of getting the very best out of his squad.

That is the verdict of Leeds United’s Stuart Dallas who played under O’Neill for Northern Ireland.

The Stoke manager stepped down from his international duties on Wednesday and so Dallas has been reflecting on the job O’Neill did for  his country.

He told Belfast Live: “I loved every minute playing under Michael.

“I think I can speak on behalf of the group in saying he was very, very well thought of by the players and we owe him a lot.

“I always wanted to represent my country but it was an added bonus winning caps under Michael. He was someone I really wanted to play for.

“Some managers are great coaches but they maybe don’t possess similar man management skills or vice versa, but Michael has both.

“He was a really great person and you could lift the phone to him anytime. He did a lot for me and I’ll always be thankful of that.”

O’Neill had been in charge of Northern Ireland for eight and a half years.

Northern Ireland had slid to 129th in the world rankings as he steadied the ship but leaves them in 36th place. They reached the knock-out stages of Euro 2016 in France and only narrowly missed out on making the 2018 World Cup.

Dallas, who can play on the wing, in midfield, wing back or full back, added: “I speak to other players at club level and none of them seem to have the connection we have with each other at Northern Ireland.

“We have a real sense of togetherness and that’s down to Michael. He knows when to work and when to relax and he keeps players happy.

“In previous years, players might have been pulling out of friendlies, but that wasn’t the case under Michael. Everyone wanted to turn up.”

The football shutdown and change of calendar has seen O’Neill step down as Northern Ireland manager and, for the first time in a best part of a decade, just concentrate on club football – and Stoke City.

He had intended to oversee Euro 2020 qualifying play-offs last month but they have now been pushed back to at least October.

He has quickly made his mark at Stoke City following his appointment in November. Stoke were bottom of the Championship but were up to 17th when the season was suspended on March 13.





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