Aston Villa and Celtic favourite ‘chosen’ for top-flight manager’s job after lengthy hiatus

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Martin O’Neill has been handed a shock management opportunity, half a decade after leaving Nottingham Forest.

The former Aston Villa manager has reportedly been lined up to take over as the new head coach of Romanian top-flight side Rapid Bucharest.

The 72-year-old has been out of coaching since he was sacked by Forest in 2019, a club close to his heart and one he made 285 appearances for as a player. It was thought that role would be his last, especially as he recently agreed to take on the role of Chairman of the League Managers Association, but Bucharest’s approach has made him reconsider.

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O’Neill, an excellent character and a top coach to boot, has been widely respected wherever he’s been. Celtic particularly took to him as he won three Scottish Premiership titles, three Scottish Cups and a League Cup in charge of the Bhoys. His 75.5 per cent win rate remains the highest in the club’s history.

The Northern Irishman is very highly thought of in B6, too, as he led Villa to three successive top-six finishes in the Premier League and the 2010 League Cup Final. Only Manchester United could stand in his way of achieving major silverware as the Red Devils ran out 2-1 victors at Wembley Stadium.

Martin O'Neill stopped by for media duties and spoke to Unai Emery before Aston Villa 1-0 Manchester City in December.Martin O'Neill stopped by for media duties and spoke to Unai Emery before Aston Villa 1-0 Manchester City in December.
Martin O'Neill stopped by for media duties and spoke to Unai Emery before Aston Villa 1-0 Manchester City in December. | AFP via Getty Images

There could yet be more trophy-chasing for O’Neill as reports across Europe, led by Fanatik and referenced by The Mirror and The Sun, claim the head coach is “on the cusp” of joining Rapid Bucharest. It’s said O’Neill could take over imminently, before the end of the season to get a feel for the job before the summer transfer window.

Rapid have two matches left of the current campaign, against Sepsi and FCSB in the SuperLiga Championship play-off. The Railwaymen, statistically the sixth-best team in Romania, are currently bottom of the end-of-season split but could move ahead of Sepsi in the upcoming six-pointer.

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