Former Hibs boss says O’Neill would be “wonderful”

Updated: November 9, 2011

Former Hibernian manager Mixu Paatelainen has said Shamrock Rovers boss Michael O’Neill would be a ‘wonderful candidate’ to take over from Colin Calderwood at the Scottish club.

The ex-Finland manager Paatelainen gave O’Neill his first coaching job at Cowdenbeath in 2005, employing his as assistant manager and spoke highly of O’Neill suitability for the Hibs vacancy.

“If you’re asking me my opinion on Michael, I think he would be a wonderful candidate for the job”, Paatelainen said.

“He is an ex-player, he knows the club and he has already shown his skill as a manager. He has to be a serious candidate.”

O’Neill enjoyed a successful spell playing for Hibs from 1993 to 1996 and still owns a property in Edinburgh.

The Northern Ireland man seemed rather cool when pressed about the prospect of taking the place of Nigel Worthington at international level last month but the prospect of rejoining Hibs, where he remains popular among supporters, could hold more attraction.

The Edinburgh club have been perennial underachievers and have a training academy years ahead of what is available to him at Rovers, and the ambitious Armagh man may see the opportunity to push the club into the top three in Scotland as a better career move than helping Rovers maintain their place as number one in Ireland.

O’Neill has two more fixtures to fulfil with The Hoops in the Europa League against Rubin Kazan and Tottenham Hotspur, after that he becomes a free agent.

It was expected that he would re-sign with Rovers after both he and chairman Jonathon Roche expressed their ambition to move the club forward ahead of last week’s game against PAOK but that was before the position at Hibs became available.

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