Lawrie Sanchez showed his hardline approach on Tuesday, as he prepared to become Fulham’s new manager, by sending Vincenzo Montella back to Roma a week before the Italian striker’s loan spell was due to end.
Northern Ireland manager Sanchez, who will be named permanent successor to Chris Coleman after the final Premiership game of the season at Middlesbrough on Sunday as reward for keeping the club in the top flight, made his decision amid rumours about the Italian’s attitude.
Montella was signed by Coleman in January and although there were concerns about the striker’s fitness, his goals were expected to guarantee Premiership survival.
Instead, he scored just once in the Premiership under Coleman and despite being given another chance by Sanchez the move has not worked out.
He scored five times in all competitions, three goals coming in the FA Cup against Championship opposition.
Sanchez, who will name Les Reed as his assistant, decided to send the striker back after Fulham’s Premiership status was assured following their victory over Liverpool and Charlton’s failure to beat Tottenham on Monday.
More departures will follow. Philippe Christanval is vulnerable after his wretched performance in the 3-1 loss at Arsenal and Sanchez also wants improvement from fellow central defender Zat Knight.
Sanchez’s permanent appointment at Craven Cottage is likely to mean an end to his Northern Ireland responsibilities.
Although he is keen to continue in that role, Fulham want him to concentrate on keeping the club in the Premiership.
Despite the former Wimbledon striker’s international stock having risen after victories over England, Spain and Sweden, Northern Ireland chiefs believe Sanchez’s new workload may jeopardise their progress.