Monday 16 September 2019

Brian Kerr on Ireland management situation : 'It’s bizarre, but it might well work out'

Ireland manager Mick McCarthy with his nominated successor and current Ireland U-21 boss Stephen Kenny at the Printworks, Dublin Castle ahead of tomorrow’s Euro 2020 draw. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Ireland manager Mick McCarthy with his nominated successor and current Ireland U-21 boss Stephen Kenny at the Printworks, Dublin Castle ahead of tomorrow’s Euro 2020 draw. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
David Kelly

David Kelly

Former Ireland manager Brian Kerr has described the hastily unveiled succession plan which will see Mick McCarthy followed by Stephen Kenny as "bizarre" - but he still thinks it might work.

"The first time I heard it, I thought it was bizarre and I still think that it's bizarre," said Kerr (right), who succeeded McCarthy as Ireland manager in 2002. "It might well work out. I wasn't surprised that Mick was offered a job and I wasn't surprised to hear that initially Stephen turned down the U-21s.

"But I am surprised by the whole set-up. It appears to say: 'Mick you're good enough for a while but only for a while - we have a fella that we know is going to be better than you lined up once we give him a bit of experience at a different level.'

"I'm not surprised that Mick has taken it. It's a nice gig for him, it appears he's going to be paid handsomely and is going to be paid to leave as well as we understand it so why wouldn't he?

"You might say it's a bit of an insult to him that they're not offering him longer but, as he said himself, maybe he'll get another job doing something else.

"And in the meantime he'll have had a profile doing the job and he'll be well rewarded for doing a job that is certainly not as intense as the type of club jobs he has had.

Kerr: Believes McCarthy can inspire squad. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Kerr: Believes McCarthy can inspire squad. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

"I was analysing the Danish match with him on TV recently and I was joking with Mick afterwards. 'The way this is going, the other fella could be sitting in here with us in a few weeks and three of us will be here talking'. And we had a bit of a laugh about it.

"I didn't think that Martin O'Neill and Roy Keane would go because of the financial implications and also the faith the FAI appeared to have in them."

Kerr believes McCarthy can inspire Ireland during their Euro 2020 qualification campaign, the demands of which will become clearer after tomorrow's Convention Centre draw.

And he feels Kenny, who Kerr introduced to coaching at an underage international tournament in Israel 18 years ago, can also be a success.

"For Stephen, he's getting what his ambition was - to be the senior manager. He's been promised it, he's said he has it in writing - which I think is just as well. So that's my view.

"There is no reason to say that it won't work. They are two very good people. All of us in this room know Stephen, have seen his progress and seen how his teams have played.

"We know his character and enthusiasm for the game, his work ethic, his ability to drive the roads of Ireland while up and down to Donegal and still not miss a player whom he thinks that he can do something with."

“We have all been surprised at times by the fellows whom he has signed. But he shined them up, turned them into jewels and sent them on into the international team. So he has the eye for a player and has the ability to work. So, yes, of course it can.”

However, Kerr believes that the structures underpinning the game here are still faulty, pointing the finger at the FAI’s governance of the League of Ireland.

“I don’t think the FAI should be running the League any more. They’ve had it for long enough and haven’t done a good job with it. It’s time for clubs to get their act together.

“Not being so much in competition with each other but accepting that it needs a bit of a revolution and another plan that will service the game in a much better way. It hasn’t worked the way it is.”

For now, Kerr is not holding his breath waiting for an invitation to get involved in Irish football again. “You asked me four years ago would I take a gig and I’m still waiting to be offered one. Not in the League of Ireland. But I’d love to play a part in Irish football in some way, other than talking about it.”

Irish Independent

The Throw-In: Selection dilemma for Dublin and All-Ireland ladies football final preview

In association with Bord Gáis Energy

Also in Sport