It was more a statement of fact than a cheap shot, but Stephen Kenny still made a point - and a strong one - about the team he inherited from Mick McCarthy.
"You have to respect the players who played in the campaign, but we only won one of the six games in the group, if you take the Gibraltar games out," Kenny said yesterday.
'Respect' can often be a loaded word. And there are players in the Ireland squad who could fear that a mixture of a poor qualifying campaign and the arrival of a new manager who has worked with the most exciting batch of young Irish in a generation (maybe even the most exciting ever) could signal the end of their international careers.
Did Kenny see a role for Glenn Whelan (36) or Shane Long (33)? Would he take the gamble of dropping Seamus Coleman for Matt Doherty? Would he decide that persisting with goal-shy strikers like Callum Robinson and Scott Hogan (a paltry one goal in 20 caps between them) was illogical when bright young forwards like Troy Parrott, Adam Idah and Aaron Connolly were on the way up, scoring freely for his U-21 side?
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Kenny hasn't said much to the current squad to date, revealing that his only conversation has been with Seamus Coleman in his role as captain.
"I rang Seamus, as captain, just to reassure him that he will indeed be the captain of Ireland under my tenure as well. He will continue to be captain of Ireland," Kenny said.
But he's talked about them. In his engagements with the media in the last 24 hours he has made it clear that he plans to take a magnifying glass, and not a spiteful scythe, to the panel he inherited from McCarthy.
As well as confirming that Coleman would remain on as captain, he talked up players who have only belatedly become proper internationals (Matt Doherty, John Egan), spoke about another established player who had been treading water as if Kenny saw him (Robbie Brady) as a project, and also gave hope to David McGoldrick, one of the real finds of the brief McCarthy era.
"We will need everyone, we can't discard anyone," Kenny said.
"We need that competition for places and the squad could change at various moments but we do need everyone to come to the fore.
"If we play nine games in autumn, we're going to get injuries. If there is an aspiration to play 16 or 17 games, we can't discard anyone."
Speaking to the media by conference call from his Co Louth home, Kenny said: "I didn't want to come on here singling out players". And then singled out a player, McGoldrick, who was first capped in 2014 by Martin O'Neill but only looked like a proper international player in 2019 under McCarthy.
"David McGoldrick has been quite selfless in his performances because he's been quite isolated," Kenny said.
"Technically, he's very, very good and that's one of the things Mick McCarthy did really, really well.
"David hadn't really featured until Mick came in but I must say he really rejuvenated David McGoldrick .
"He has good football intellect - he sees things early and has good movement. So he's been very important to Ireland in the campaign."
The key to his success at Dundalk was how Kenny made players access talent they didn't know they had, players like Chris Shields and Brian Gartland transformed from journeymen to title winners by Kenny.
You sense a frustration from Kenny that Robbie Brady is well below the heights he reached in 2016.
"I think we have a lot of talented players," he said.
"It's difficult to know why, for example, someone like Robbie Brady three years ago was probably our most creative player and now, at times, hasn't got into the 22. How has that happened?
"My job is to try and unlock the potential of the whole team and try and find a way of doing that."
If Matt Doherty and John Egan had feared for their places under Kenny, he poured honey into their ears, stating they deserved more than the small number of caps they have and adding that Egan should have been an established international long ago.
"I looked at the back four against Denmark, Doherty, Egan, Duffy and Stevens and, in my informed view, that is in the top 10 of back fours in Europe. I don't throw that out lightly, I just measured it up."
“No matter who we are playing, home or away, it will be about trying to establish control. You’re talking about revolution and that’s a big word. But this is not a soundbite, I mean it, it’s something I strongly believe in – I would like schoolboy teams and academy teams throughout the country to look at the senior international team and think that’s how we want to play. That they connect with it at that level. That is my dream. That they look at this team and think, ‘That’s how we’re going to play’.”
Ireland having just one way to play
“I’m not going to sit here and criticise anyone, particularly the previous managers. I just didn’t like that train of thought and people had that opinion that it was in our DNA to play long ball and that our players had the characteristics over the generations to play in a more direct way and that idea was promoted. I disagreed with that fundamentally and continue to disagree with it.”But you have to try and prove it otherwise.”
Ireland’s recent form
“You have to respect the players who played in the campaign, but we only won one of the six games in the group, if you take the Gibraltar games out. By no means do I want to criticise the set-up, but I just think we definitely have to... I do things my own way.”
“I rang Seamus Coleman, as captain, just to reassure him that he will indeed be the captain of Ireland under my tenure as well. He will continue to be captain of Ireland. The reason being that every value he has as a man and a player, the way he prepares and applies himself, I admire. He’s a great ambassador.”
What being Ireland boss means
“It’s a proud moment for my family. I wouldn’t be here, I wouldn’t be the manager of Ireland without the support of my family. Some of my children have moved school three times. Niamh, my eldest, has moved five times, three different jurisdictions. Moving schools is a big ordeal. I wouldn’t be where I am today as manager without their support so I am grateful for that.”
Snobbery about his CV
“I think we all have to prove ourselves regardless. You have to continually prove yourself. I’ve a two-year contract until the end of World Cup campaign. In order for me to get a further contract I’ll have to prove myself and I’m comfortable with that.”
Omitting Robbie Keane from his backroom team
“I have huge respect for Robbie Keane as a player, what he has achieved is remarkable, his goals and appearances probably won’t be equalled. But I have learned as a manager what works for me and what doesn’t work for me. You learn through your experiences and you must have the ability to pick your own backroom team.”
U-21 strikers like Parrott and Connolly
“I think they are all very talented. I’m hoping they continue to progress. I think they are natural goalscorers, genuinely natural goalscorers. But the caveat is how they’re doing at their clubs.”
Slovakia in the Euro 2020 play-off
“It’s a tough situation, to go to Slovakia and win. I have watched a lot of Slovakia’s games already but going to Slovakia and winning is something we are capable of doing, they are tough opponents but we wouldn’t be fearful, the stakes are so high that motivation would be really high.”
A busy schedule
“We might have three games in one window which is unprecedented. I’ve no problem with that, I’ve dealt with that before, you just manage it accordingly.”
“Matt Doherty is 28 and John Egan is 27, and Matt Doherty has three competitive starts for Ireland and John Egan has two-and-a-half. Three years ago, John Egan was probably ready then to play in our first team. Matt Doherty can play left-back, right-back, has played in advanced positions as well. Other players have played in that position ahead of Matt.”