Leaving before these two games was not an option.
“That would not have been the right thing to do and I was clear with Stoke about that from the start.”
While taking the NI side for the Dutch and German games was always O’Neill’s intention, he revealed it was the Irish FA that requested he remains in charge for any potential playoff matches in March.
During the negotiations it then became clear that there was a possibility of me taking the playoff – I think the IFA requested that,” continued O’Neill, who won his first game in charge of Stoke against Barnsley last week.
The reality of the situation is that I will have five months of club football behind me before I take that game. The playoff will be a quick turnaround – it’s a Thursday game which will mean three days of preparation.
I have proved that I am quite adept at doing that, and it would have been very difficult for a new manager to go straight into a playoff scenario.
Hopefully if that situation does arrive, and we don’t qualify through these next two games, then we will be in a healthy position and ready to give it our best in March to qualify.”
Michael O’Neill on the prospect of being in charge of Northern Ireland for the play off games in March.
O’Neill speaking to Talksport
“There have been discussions between Stoke and the Irish FA regarding that,
Obviously the Stoke situation just arose last week so I wasn’t in a position not to take these two games or indeed I wouldn’t have done that.
Stoke obviously wanted me in for the Barnsley game last weekend which I managed to go in and take with just one day’s preparation. It was a challenging game to take but obviously a good result for us.
Then these two games will take care of themselves.
The play-off game is five months away and people have talked about whether it’s feasible to do it.
The reality of the situation is that, five months from now we will turn up on a Sunday and play on a Thursday and we either go forward to a play-off final or we’ll be knocked out.
The actual time frame involved is not as hectic or as gruelling as people imagine.
And as a Northern Ireland manager you’re not watching 100 players to pick 25, you’re kind of watching 26 to pick 25. I do think it’s feasible for me to do the play-off anyway.
Andy Hinchcliffe spoke about Stoke in the EPL Podcast
“You have to feel a bit for Nathan Jones. If he watched that game as I did he would have been wondering where that desire and quality was when he really needed it.
“It was a good performance and a very important win when you’re battling relegation, but if you look at the players they have, they owe Stoke City big time.
“If that’s the first step on the big turnaround for Stoke then great, but I looked at some of the player reactions when they were scoring the goals and it was as if they were a team challenging for promotion. It was just a start.
“I think O’Neill is a good fit for Stoke but, whoever is in charge of that club, the players carry so much responsibility. Look at the quality of their players and the experienced international players they have got, for them to be where they are, they should be ashamed of themselves.
Beating Barnsley was important to where they are in the league, and it has set the bar now in terms of desire. Now, however O’Neill goes with his team selection and personnel, it is up to the players to put this right this season
“His man-management skills are absolutely excellent, which is why Northern Ireland have done so well.
Stoke have the quality and experience of player to do well, but you need someone to get the best out of them. It’s maybe not so much about his Championship experience, but it’s about the player experience and what he has done with Northern Ireland.”
Micheal O’Neill spoke to Sky Sports on why Stoke was the club he decided to leave the Northern Ireland job for.
O’Neill admitted that, despite being offered other managerial roles during his time as Northern Ireland manager, Stoke was the right fit for him.
“This is my fourth campaign as an international manager. It’s been an immensely challenging job but an extremely rewarding job as well,”
“The opportunity to manage your country probably only comes around once in your career, and if you said to me when I took it that I’d be in this position eight years later I certainly wouldn’t have expected that.
“Throughout that time there have been opportunities for me to leave. Having looked under the bonnet at Stoke and getting to know the owners, it’s a very attractive job.
“It’s a big club that previously spent 10 years in the Premier League. Whilst they’re not in that position now, there’s a lot of things in place to aspire to get back to that level
“When you’re coming out of international football, especially with an association like Northern Ireland where I’ve developed a lot of trust and I’ve got a lot of control and do a lot of the decision making, it was important that the ownership model was right for me and the stability of the club was there.
“With Peter and John Coates, it’s very much a family club, it was clear how much the club means to them which is very important as well.
“That’s the type of model I was looking for, as opposed to a club with overseas ownership – you hear horror stories in the game.
“Ultimately, it was the potential of the club and the quality of the playing staff.”
Sky sports presenter David Prutton gives his thoughts on Michael O’Neill been appointed Stoke manager.
“My initial thoughts were that he obviously likes a challenge. We’ve discussed Michael O’Neill before, and my immediate thoughts was that it was a similar to the Chris Coleman situation at Sunderland.
“He came into a club that was sinking rapidly and couldn’t end up helping them. He came away from managing at the Euros to taking charge of a club heading south in the space of a year to 18 months.
“I think Michael has got to be wary of that – he’s done an amazing job with Northern Ireland. The job he’s got at Stoke is big. We all know that the ingredients they’ve got there fit together very well.
“They’ve had a year of making rudimentary mistakes and errors, with players costing them who you wouldn’t expect. He’s got to go in there and marshal that.
“They scored four goals at the weekend – that’s the first time they scored more than two goals in 89 games which is utterly astounding.
“There’s a group of players there that need to get back to doing what we know they can do