Sun, Sep 10, 2006 - Page 22 News List

Sanchez stays on as N Ireland coach despite criticism

AP , BELFAST

Lawrie Sanchez will continue as Northern Ireland manager after considering resigning due to criticism in the local media.

Sanchez didn't appear at a post-match news conference after Northern Ireland's shock 3-2 win over Spain in a 2008 European Championship qualifier on Wednesday, prompting rumors he would quit.

After discussions with Irish Football Association president Jim Boyce, Sanchez decided to fulfill his contract that runs through to the end of the qualifying phase.

Sanchez says it was criticism from Northern Ireland's media -- and not a possible return to club soccer -- that had caused him to consider his position.

He has been in charge of the team since January 2004, which included a 1-0 World Cup qualifying win over England last September.

"Criticism is part and parcel of football, but some of the criticism has been out of all proportion, especially when considering the team had not won for 15 matches and had failed to score in 1,298 minutes before I took over," Sanchez said in a statement yesterday.

"It led me to question whether I wanted to continue as Northern Ireland manager and if the team could continue to make such progress in this climate of negativity," he said.

Sanchez said he was astonished by "the level and ferocity of the criticism from certain sections of the media" toward him and his team.

"Certainly, the Northern Ireland team deserve more respect for what we have achieved and the progress that has been made these past three seasons," he said.

Sanchez played for 10 years with English club Wimbledon, scoring the winning goal in the 1988 FA Cup final triumph over Liverpool.

He has also managed Irish team Sligo and Wycombe.

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