Northern Ireland’s World Cup qualifying defeat to Switzerland on Sunday night left manager Michael O’Neill hanging his head in disappointment. This most frustrating of 1-0 aggregate defeats, sealed by a contentious first-leg penalty, may be viewed in a different light over in Scotland, however.
The Daily Record reported last month that the inspirational O’Neill was a target for Rangers, who are still looking for a replacement for Pedro Caixinha over a fortnight after the Portuguese’s sacking.
And the Scotland national team are also on the lookout for a new coach after Gordon Strachan paid for another qualification failure with his job. According to the Scottish Sun, O’Neill is the prime candidate.
Though one of the many players who have emerged as a real national hero under O’Neill in Northern Ireland may be keeping a close eye on developments. After all, star striker Kyle Lafferty made no secret of his desire to return to former club Rangers in the summer.
The rangy striker told the Daily Record that he regretted the manner of his 2012 departure, jumping ship to FC Sion when Rangers were demoted to the fourth tier. And after his release by Norwich City in the summer, Lafferty had his heart set on an emotional return to Ibrox.
With no offer coming his way, however, the one-time Burnley youngster was forced to settle for a move to Hearts instead. If O’Neill gets the nod to take over at Rangers, however, Lafferty will surely be tempted by a move back to Rangers - even after insisting that he is focused currently on a long future at Hearts.
'Laff' has been fantastic in all three games. He has all the attributes and is bringing it all together,” FourFourTwo reported O’Neill as saying of the striker, who scored six times in Euro 2016 qualifying, netted in a 2-0 win against Greece in October 2014.
"The second goal - the quality of his run, touch and finish - was phenomenal. What he brings is huge."
O’Neill is perhaps the only manager in Lafferty’s nomadic career who has got the best out of him on a semi-regular basis. Would this be a match made in heaven at Rangers?