Tuesday 17 September 2019

Robbie Keane 'skillset' will be key asset in role for Ireland - Dokter

Same school: Dokter says Dundalk had a clear philosophy and style of play under Stephen Kenny (pictured)
Same school: Dokter says Dundalk had a clear philosophy and style of play under Stephen Kenny (pictured)
Ruud Dokter. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

FAI High Performance Director Ruud Dokter says that Robbie Keane will bring a special skillset to his role on Mick McCarthy's backroom staff and hinted that the retiring striker will be involved in younger age groups too.

The 38-year-old was announced as one of McCarthy's assistants earlier this week in a move which has attracted some negative comment considering he has yet to secure his full Pro Licence.

He is due to start the next course in January to complete his qualifications.

But Dokter has dismissed the suggestion that it sends out the wrong message to other coaches who have gone through the entire system already.

Both FAI CEO John Delaney and McCarthy indicated earlier this week that Keane could well be a part of the succession plan that sees Stephen Kenny take the top job from 2020.

"It's not the wrong signal at all," says Dokter, who will also be around the senior set-up a bit more as part of the change which has led to Kenny assuming greater responsibility with regard to the men's underage sides.

"It's fantastic that Robbie Keane, with his profile, wants to be involved with not only the seniors but the other teams.

"He'll also be at the under 13 and under 15 league games. He has a huge passion for developing football in Ireland. It's a huge positive. He'll be doing the Pro Licence so you can't be rigid.

"There is staff there and Robbie brings his own skillset. As Mick said, he will challenge the staff and that is great. That is the dynamic of Ireland."

Dokter clarified that his brief will not see him take a place in the Irish dressing room or on the bench. When Martin O'Neill was in charge, the Dutchman's role was to oversee every side apart from the men's senior team.

That has been tweaked slightly now. Dokter was a part of the discussions with both McCarthy and Kenny about their new brief.

"It's more bringing people together, to have this collaborative approach to player development," he said. "There will be sub group meetings with Mick and Stephen and other people.

The 63-year-old said he was a long term admirer of Kenny and viewed his appointment as a means to copper fasten a link between the underage sides and the senior team, possibly even with regard to the style of play - although he repeatedly stressed that it's not possible to be 'rigid' in that area.

"I appreciate the difficulties at the top," he said, "It looks very simple but it's not as you know. I have always said we need a common philosophy and approach in player development.

"When we had conversations with Mick, that was part of the conversation, 'how do you want to play, does it fit into your style?'. It shouldn't be completely different.

"You have seen with the underage teams that there is an attacking style of play, that is important You develop people if you challenge them and if you are proactive in your approach, not sitting deep with the under 15 side going for results.

"But when you go up towards under 19 it becomes more results orientated and you have to become more realistic."

Dokter suggested that he agrees with Kenny's opinion that Irish players are undervalued and is on the same page with the ex-Dundalk boss in his criticism of the traditional reliance on the English system. He does not believe the style of play across the water is always conducive to player development.

"I have followed Dundalk over the years and the way they play, there is evidence of his philosophy and style of play," said Dokter. "I have met Stephen many times before and we had discussions before.

"As I said before, we have to look beyond England. It's a very different environment to get into a team there. So go to Denmark, go to Belgium, go to France, go to Holland, challenge yourself. If you want to be a professional player, start there.

"Jack Byrne did it, he played at Cambuur. He had a difficult start with injury but progressed and it was a pity, I would have liked to see him stay on for two or three years.

"It is very important that these players have the right advice on where they go because much talent is actually lost by making the wrong decisions."

Irish Independent

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