Thursday 19 September 2019

The best bits of John Delaney's Q&A: FAI decided to part ways with Martin O'Neill before Denmark draw

FAI chief-executive John Delaney, Mick McCarthy and FAI High Performance Director Ruud Dokter in the Aviva Stadium at the unveiling of Ireland’s new manager. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile
FAI chief-executive John Delaney, Mick McCarthy and FAI High Performance Director Ruud Dokter in the Aviva Stadium at the unveiling of Ireland’s new manager. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile Sportsdesk

John Delaney faced some robust questioning from the media as he unveiled Mick McCarthy as the manager of the Republic of Ireland

Does Mick have a clause/option to continue after 2020?

"No, I'm not going to get into contract details, but just accept the point that the manager until 2020 is Mick McCarthy and the manager after that will be Stephen Kenny."

Was the option of another two years discussed with Mick or representatives at any point?

"No, absolutely not."

Did Stephen Kenny persuade you to give him the senior job?

"He never had to persuade me that at some stage he should manage the Irish international A team. Never, absolutely not. Not any board member, Ruud (Dokter). Absolutely not."

Did you think you could pull it off? Getting two men on board is fairly unusual?

"I think Ruud will tell you it's been done in Holland before. I think you have to set out what you want in life first and then you set out how you implement it. We had a decision to make with Martin and Roy which we did and that had to be done correctly and professionally which we did on Tuesday night. Then you have to have the conversations with Stephen and Mick and make sure everybody is on board. They're on board, you've heard Mick today and you'll hear Stephen tomorrow.

The U21s will have four games after the Nations League starts in 2020. Will that be a different manager?

Former Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Former Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile


So he is only managing the team for part of the campaign?

Yeah, but he’s still got 20 months. And he’s got the 19s, the 17s, the 16s, the 15s... I spoke to him earlier, he’s looking forward to going over to Europe, watching international managers play, talking to international managers, because it’s a big change and he knows that and he is looking to working with and learning with Mick McCarthy.

There was a lot said about a disconnect in terms of style of play. We had a style of play with underage sides that didn't translate to senior level. With these two appointments is this all going to be seemless?

That’s more a question for Mick to consider when he sits down with all the players. He has already said that he does not intend to play 4-4-2, i think he is going to be a 4-3-3 man, that's what he would have outlined to us. But there are nights when, as you know in life, you need to get a result and Mick is in the results business, a project to get us to the Euros. Mick likes to play attractive football, we know that. He gets the best out of the players - he does - and he's preparing a pathway to qualify for the Euros but also for Stephen Kenny to take over.

In response to criticism from Liam Brady and Andy Townsend and a petition signed by almost 20,000 fans saying you should go - what do you say?

"Everybody can have their opinions. There is a robust structure within the FAI, I report to a board, there is a broader Council, we have strong grass roots and when all of this goes away, which it does, I and the association have to manage 200 employees... big volunteers, loads of clubs which I visit every weekend. We'll get on with the development of the game. There are big projects that haven't been reported.

Have you felt under pressure the last month?


Do Brady and Townsend's views not matter - 20,000 people don't matter?

"I wouldn't say that. People are entitled to their opinion. We've got to get on to do what we do. I don't want to get personal about these things. I have a lot of respect for Liam Brady... and what Andy Townsend did on the pitch. I'm not going to get into name-calling. Today is a very positive day."

Can you address what happened in Aarhus from the FAI point of view, with banners being removed from Danish stewards who had pictures supplied to them?

Honestly I don't know too much about that, I don't. There's a time obviously. We get on very well with a lot of supporters clubs be it Wayne Sullivan in Ballybrack who sells a thousand season tickets, Davy Keogh, Jim Barr, all these lads. George and the boys. Who support the Irish team brilliantly. There would be a time to reflect in terms of getting unity back into Irish football, I wouldn't be happy that anybody would be negative towards the association or the team and there will be a time, when things settle down, to try and heal some of those things

Do you feel fans are entitled to voice their opinions inside the stadium in the form of a banner?

"If supporters want to voice their opinions, I am not going to prevent them, okay. I'm not going to prevent them. There's a time now where we should look and reflect on healing some of the divisions"

Would you not accept that they were prevented from doing so? Did the FAI have a role?

"I don't know. I would say no because I'll tell you what, I wasn't there. I am in the stadium, I have got other duties that day as you can only imagine, alright. To close it out. My own view is having worked closely with a lot of supporters clubs, we had them down at our AGM, we do Q and A's with them, we work with them...once a month I would do a supporters club night be it in Tullamore, Mullingar, up in Derry, Belfast..

To be fair John, that's not what you've been asked?

What I would like is that there would be some healing when all of this settles down and we'll mention that.

Did any Ireland supporters know on Monday there would be a change in management?

"No. Absolutely not. No."

Was the O'Neill decision made because you are under pressure?

"No, there has been pressure before. There is pressure in any job, that can be government, football. You make the right decision for Irish football and I am pretty sure we have made the right decision for Irish football today, it is a new beginning and a new dawn?

If it's a new beginning, should you move on and let somebody else take over?

"No, there is a lot of work to be done, a lot of projects...there's the 2030 World Cup, there's Glanmire, there's the implemention of what we announced today. There's Dalymount Park. I could list a million and one things that have to be done with Irish football. There's a lot of good things being done in Irish football.

You're going to be there for all of those things?

If you want a headline saying that, you're not going to get that. There's a lot of projects to be done. There was a week where we had decisions to make. We made them. They had to be presented today. After that, there's a draw here on Sunday, and a range of other projects we have to get on with.

You spoke recently of new ideas on UEFA board. Would you be open to changes in composition of FAI board?

"The board has had a lot of changes in the last couple of years. The board decided months ago to bring further governance changes. I remember back when it was a 23 person board and went to 10. We've added Niamh O'Donoghue as a woman to the board recently, as you know. There have been new additions to the board in Noel Fitzroy and Mick Hanley, but there will be further governance changes of course that will come in. They will be put to our members, like they always are, in January at the EGM."

How long do you want to stay as CEO?

"Ah, I'm not going to answer that today. Today is about Mick McCarthy, Stephen Kenny, Robbie Keane and a new Irish international manager. There's lots of stuff to be done.

Why was the game up for Martin O'Neill and Roy Keane?

They had a great five years, and I will say it again because I don’t want to any quotations taken out of context. It was a tough last 12 months, no doubt about that. I think Martin would accept that the football was poor enough of recent, and the attendances were also dropping. That’s a concern. Again, you want to see progression, and the team, Martin will be the first to say he tried 12 or 13 young players which I hope, which I’m sure will stand to Mick and Stephen into the future. Having considered all of what I’ve just said, and also we were relegated from the Nations League, technically, on the Friday night, so the board took the decision and met with Martin in a professional and respectful way. We dealt with it. If I see Martin in the future I will be looking forward to having a cup of tea.

When was the decision made? After the Monday night game?

"The decision was made before the Denmark game. It was made on the Sunday. It was only discussed by the board and only discussed with Martin on the Tuesday.

Irish Independent

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