Ian Baraclough: Irish FA part ways with Northern Ireland manager

The Irish FA have parted ways with Northern Ireland manager Ian Baraclough, BBC Sport NI understands.

The decision was taken at the council meeting on Thursday evening.

NI have won just four of their 22 competitive games under Baraclough, who replaced Michael O’Neill in charge 28 months ago.

He leaves after his side avoided relegation to the fourth tier of the Nations League despite losing to Greece last month.

The search for a new manager begins with NI not competing again until March.

Among the possible candidates is predecessor O’Neill, who is currently unattached He was released by Stoke City In August, Northern Ireland’s record goalscorer David Healy led Linfield to four consecutive Irish Premiership titles.

Current St Mirren boss Stephen Robinson, ex-Kilmarnock manager Tommy Wright, ex-NI midfielder Jim Magilton and Northern Ireland Women’s manager Kenny Shiels were interviewed along with Baraclough in 2020.

Momentum struggle after missing Euro 2020 qualifiers

Former Under-21 manager Baraclough, 51, was promoted to the senior job following O’Neill’s move to Stoke in the Championship.

Before joining the NI coaching staff the Englishman had a successful season with League of Ireland side Shamrock Rovers before taking charge of Motherwell.

After initially agreeing an 18-month deal, the IFA handed Baraclough a two-year extension last December, which should see him through the Euro 2024 qualifying campaign.

His third game was Northern Ireland’s Euro 2020 qualifier against Bosnia-Herzegovina, which he won via a penalty kick.

However, hopes of reaching a second European Championship in a row were dashed as Slovakia won 2-1 at home.

Since then, NI have struggled to find any momentum and have only won back-to-back games once during Baraclough’s tenure.

They finished a distant third in their 2022 World Cup qualifying group with nine points from eight games, and last month’s home victory over Kosovo ended a 14-match run without a win in the Nations League.