Northern Ireland have to shut out the outside noise and focus on putting on a show, believes boss Ian Baraclough

Ian Baraclough spoke yesterday about his ability to shut out negativity and focus on his job, but that was impossible yesterday as he took questions about Kyle Lafferty’s alleged use of sectarian language.

As serious and important as the matter was, the Irish FA wanted the focus to be on tonight’s game against Kosovo and the Northern Ireland manager admitted he’s good at letting the outside noise wash over him.

However, he drew some boos from fans after the 2-2 home draw against Cyprus and the green-white army will be looking for something to shout about at Windsor Park and on Tuesday against Greece in Athens.

“If you’re not winning football games, you have to expect that, and I shut out the noise — I don’t read the press, nor do I listen to every little soundbite on the radio or TV,” Baraclough said.

“I know that the work we do, the work of the players, is something that will bear fruit. I think we have to be patient with that. I know the fans will be frustrated, there’s no way around that – I get that.


Ian Baraclough

“But hopefully we can get them out of their seats, support the players, support the team that’s there and that there’s a feel-good factor for the 90, 95 minutes. It is our responsibility to get them out of their seats. We’ve been in the game long enough, some of the younger players have seen it too, they’ve had that experience. It thickens her skin a bit, but we’re going to focus on doing the right things to get a result.”

Facing fears of a lack of confidence and trust in the team, the manager was keen to paint a positive picture.

“When the guys came in I felt like they were ready,” he added. “In this group there is more experience and a more familiar look.

“Regardless of whether they were here in the summer or not, they will feel the effects of it. You will have seen the games over the summer and felt for the lads who worked hard but didn’t get much in return. So the focus is on getting that first win and making sure we don’t fall behind in the league and this is the last time we’ll be together ahead of next year’s Euro qualifiers.

“So everyone wants to get involved and we welcome that. We want to win games. We do not hide our faces, we know that after two previous windows in which there were ups and positives, the results were not good enough.

“It’s changing so quickly and we know we have a chance to make amends and give the fans something to smile about.

“It’s a full house, sold out, hopefully it will jump on Saturday night. Hopefully the fans can go home for a pint after winning the game.” Northern Ireland have to shut out the outside noise and focus on putting on a show, believes boss Ian Baraclough

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