IT would be something of a surprise if Michael O’Neill was appointed Rangers manager in the coming days despite the resounding success which he has enjoyed during the past six seasons with the Northern Ireland national team.

The odds on O’Neill taking over at Ibrox may have shortened considerably, in some cases even halved, with bookmakers following his side’s narrow 1-0 defeat to Switzerland in the Russia 2018 play-off on Sunday night.

But after making a left field appointment in Pedro Caixinha last time around, and paying the price for it since, directors at the Glasgow club will surely err on the side of caution when it comes to his successor.

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Read more: "Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill could handle the Rangers job. No problem. He has the temperament."

Bringing in someone who has only had two jobs in club management during his career – at lowly Angus part-timers Brechin City and League of Ireland outfit Shamrock Rovers – would surely be too much of a gamble regardless of his various achievements in recent years.

The former Dundee United, Aberdeen, Hibernian and St. Johnstone midfielder taking over from Gordon Strachan, the man he credits with being his greatest influence as a manager, in the Scotland hotseat is a far more likely eventuality.

However, would it be the worst move that Rangers could make if they did turn to O’Neill? He transformed the fortunes of a Northern Ireland team which had not been to the finals of a major tournament in 30 long and painful years. What is more, he did so with a group of, with one or two notable exceptions, decidedly ordinary players.

The Ibrox club is unable to compete with their Parkhead counterparts financially at the moment and for the foreseeable future. So why not bring in a man who has proved he can work wonders with limited resources?

Read more: Ross McCrorie thanks Pedro Caixinha for his big Rangers chance

The 48-year-old lives in Edinburgh and knows Scottish football well. Furthermore, his assistant is Jimmy Nicholl who is a former Rangers player who has worked in this country as a coach and a manager for many years.

Sammy McIlroy, the Manchester United and Northern Ireland legend who spent three years in charge of his country himself, is certainly effusive in his praise of the job his compatriot has done.

McIlroy feels O’Neill has a big decision to make now. Does he remain in his current position and rebuild his team? Does he stay in international management and accept the Scotland job if the SFA contact him? Or does he go back to the club game and accept one of many offers which will surely be forthcoming?

“Michael could decide that now is the time to move on,” he said. “He has had a fantastic six years. The last four years in particular have been very, very good. He has done himself proud. He can walk away with his head held high.

“Only he knows what his next step is going to be. It is a little bit too soon to ask him now simply because the disappointment of not qualifying is still so raw. He needs time to reflect on what has happened and speak to his family and friends and staff.

Read more: "Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill could handle the Rangers job. No problem. He has the temperament."

“He has big, big questions to ask himself. If Scotland were interested he would have to ask himself: ‘Why would I leave Northern Ireland for Scotland?’ Is it because there are far more players to work with and they are renowned as a bigger nation?

“He has to ask himself does he still want that sort of role or does he crave day to day involvement at a big club. Would that be appealing to him? He’s never had a taste of life as a manager at a major football club. If a big club, a Glasgow Rangers or an Everton, comes in he may decide that is his next challenge.”

McIlroy played alongside Nicholl in both the 1982 and 1986 World Cups and believes if Rangers did approach O’Neill he would be the ideal man to help him cope with the demands and pressures that would be on his shoulders at Ibrox.

“Jimmy is a pal of mine,” he said. “He knows what Rangers is all about and knows Scottish football well too. He has living and working over there for a number of years. He would be a good man for Michael to work with if he took on the job. He would be able to pick his brains and sound him out about things.”

McIlroy, meanwhile, rejected suggestions that O’Neill’s sides play a negative and unattractive style of football which would be unappealing to supporters.

“I totally disagree with that,” he said. “Michael had to do a job with the players he had. He identified the strengths of the players and built a team around them. Northern Ireland had a team of big, physical players who won games with set plays. They got to the European Championship finals last summer playing that way.

“You prepare with what you have got. You set up with what you have. I think it is a bit unfair to criticise the way his team played. You play to your strengths.”