Stoke City have announced that Billy McKinlay has joined the club as Michael O’Neill’s assistant manager, with the 50-year-old adding plenty of experience to the Potters’ coaching staff.
McKinlay has plenty of experience as a first team coach, having enjoyed spells working with the likes of Fulham, Watford, Sunderland and Real Sociedad in La Liga, as well as working with O’Neill as part of his coaching staff with the Northern Ireland national team.
The move will see O’Neill reunite with his former team-mate at Dundee United, and McKinlay’s experience of the Championship could be a very influential factor in helping the new Stoke manager het to grips with life in the English second tier as the season progresses.
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Speaking to Stoke City’s official website, O’Neill revealed that has experience working with McKinlay during both his playing career and coaching career and that he believes he will be a good fit alongside his other coaching staff, saying: “Billy and I have known each other since the early 1990’s when we were teammates and I’m delighted to welcome him to the staff at Stoke City.
“I’ve seen Billy work at both club and international level and I know that he’s an excellent coach who I believe is a great fit for us.”
O’Neill will be boosted by the arrival of McKinlay as his assistant manager, with the pair having a strong working relationship and the 50-year-old can help to add plenty of Championship experience to the Potters’ coaching staff, having worked with both Watford and Sunderland in the in the English second tier.
That could prove vital for O’Neill who despite all his achievements during his eight-year spell in charge of the Northern Ireland national team, has never managed in English football or the Championship before, so having people around him know the league will only help him get off to a strong start with the Potters.
O’Neill and McKinlay will both now have the chance to put their full attentions on the Stoke squad now for the next few vital months, with Northern Ireland not in action again until their Euro 2020 play-off in March – and it is crucial that they help the Potters find some much-needed consistency over the coming weeks and months.