Monday 16 September 2019

'John Delaney should pass the baton on' - Former Ireland captain calls for change at the top of the FAI

John Delaney. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
John Delaney. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Kevin Palmer

Kevin Palmer

Former Ireland captain Andy Townsend has suggested FAI chief executive John Delaney should step down from his role and 'pass the baton' on.

Speaking on Sky Sports' Debate, Townsend gave his backing to either former Ireland manager Mick McCarthy or Dundalk boss Stephen Kenny to succeed Martin O'Neill as national team boss.

Yet it was his comments on Delaney's position that were the most intriguing, as the former midfielder spoke with real passion about the need for change in Irish soccer.

"The problem for me is that the biggest change needs to happen (upstairs), that has to be sooner rather than later," he said.

"I think that may be easier for someone like Mick to handle. There's no suggestion John Delaney should pass the baton on, but he should."

When asked to assess whether McCarthy or Kenny should take over as Ireland boss, Townsend argued he could see the merit in the appointment of either candidate.

"Mick has done the job, he's very experienced, he's been around the block and this is a turbulent time in Irish football in many ways. He's not going to be fazed by anything," he added.

"Stephen Kenny is a League of Ireland manager who's done exceptionally well and there's something quite interesting about giving the job to someone like him.

"It's quite exciting to see someone like Stephen in with a chance, but you also want to qualify and with Mick's experience, he would score heavily with that."

Mick McCarthy and Stephen Kenny were the leading candidates to replace Martin O'Neill

Former Republic midfielder Keith Andrews believes O'Neill paid the price for an outdated approach as his side won just once in nine games in 2018.

"The first three-quarters of this reign has to be seen as a successful period," Andrews told Sky Sports.

"The areas where it falls down... 10 years ago that type of management may well have worked, and we have a lot of players that have retired in the last year to two that would have been used to that type of management. But players now need different requirements.

"So if Martin is that kind of man-management, quirky manager that we're used to seeing on TV and interviews, that's fine, but then your back-room staff have to complement that. And if that's not the case it's going to fall down, especially when players are getting the level of detail that they are getting now at club level. It doesn't happen with this Ireland team.

"Progressively it had got worse, going from game to game, systems not similar, players playing out of position; Cyrus Christie being a prime example playing central midfield the last few games, like a fish out of water. I've got sympathy for him but it simply hasn't worked and it's the right time to change."

The FAI is hoping to make a swift appointment, with the draw for the Euro 2020 finals due to take place in Dublin on December 2.

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