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'Football needs to be the centre of the FAI' - Kenny to air his views in new executive role


Ireland manager Stephen Kenny during a press conference at FAI Headquarters in Abbotstown, Dublin. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Ireland manager Stephen Kenny during a press conference at FAI Headquarters in Abbotstown, Dublin. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Ireland manager Stephen Kenny during a press conference at FAI Headquarters in Abbotstown, Dublin. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Stephen Kenny says he wants to use his newly-created role at management level of the FAI as a voice for a football community which has suffered years of austerity that contributed to the loss of a generation of young players.

It was announced last month that, for the first time in the Association's history, the senior international team manager would have a say at board level with the title of International Football Director.

Kenny says his main focus will be on managing the senior side but he will address wider issues at all levels of the international game, Kenny noting the talent gap between the emergence of Jeff Hendrick and Aaron Connolly as an example of lost years.

"My job is international team manager with the eight games ahead in the Autumn, which is a big challenge. If I can contribute and give my experience and my views, not with the board of Directors but with the senior management at the FAI, I’ll do that.

"I do that anyway, I think this just gives me a seat at the table if I require it," Kenny said today.

"I don’t intend on attending all of the meetings, that’s not what I’m there for. It’s important, because of austerity at the FAI over the last number of years, some of the international teams at underage level may not have been resourced in the ways they might have wanted.

"That has a knock-on effect, as it affects how they do in qualifying for tournaments and how players come through. We haven’t seen players come through.

"We have Jeff Hendrick and Robbie Brady at 28 who have come through, and nobody for nine years until Aaron Connolly came through, aside from the two Cork City players, Alan Browne and Sean Maguire.

"We haven’t had players through. I’m talking about competitive games, not friendly games. We have a lot of players with potential, we have to work with them to realise that potential.

"We need to identify players earlier, and understand the talent they have and the way we want to play. It’s been well-documented we have players like John Egan and Matt Doherty who are 28 now, and they’ve only played three matches each.

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"They’ve been good enough for quite a few years. They are terrific players. John Egan went for £4 million three-and-a-half years ago to Brentford, he was probably ready then," Kenny added, expanding on his new role.

"To be honest my job hasn’t changed at all. I don’t have the title of Director. I’m the manager of the international team, that’s all I ever wanted to be.

"That's a huge privilege and honour to do that, and since I’ve come into the organisation as U21 manager I’ve been a strong voice, and I think that's recognised.

"Football needs to be at the centre of the decision-making process, particularly with the international teams at all levels. I articulate my views, and we have a great Technical Director in Ruud Dokter, and he’s doing a very good job behind the scenes, along with all of the underage managers," Kenny added.

He says he will set up an office at FAI HQ where the home-based management team can track talent.

"Football needs to be the centre of the FAI. Myself, Keith Andrews, Damien Duff, Ruadhri Higgins, we all live in Ireland. That’s never happened before, where the whole management team is based in Ireland," he said.

"We will be based in Abbottstown, that doesn’t happen. That office inside has probably been vacant a lot of the time, as managers have traditionally lived abroad.

"We're putting a video analysis room here, which we never had, we can scrutinise the 40-odd players that are playing every week.

"We can look at them, analyse how they're doing. We've been on Microsoft Teams and in this room, over the last couple of weeks we've done Bulgaria's eight games, we've done our own eight games of the campaign first of all, analysed them," he added.

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