Thursday 23 May 2019

'The game has been mis-managed here for years' - Brian Kerr gives his verdict on Martin O'Neill's exit

Brian Kerr calling for changes in Irish football. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Brian Kerr calling for changes in Irish football. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile Newesdesk

Brian Kerr admitted he was surprised by the timing of the FAI's move to bring down the curtain on the era of Martin O'Neill and Roy Keane with the Ireland team, as he suggested their exit should herald a review of Irish soccer at all levels.

Former Ireland boss Kerr believes the protests from Ireland fans against the FAI's hierarchy was the tipping point for O'Neill and Keane, as he suggested the time was right to make a change.

"The joylessness of the games helped the FAI to make this decision," Kerr told Newstalk. "You rarely see players smiling before, during or after the match. It almost feels like it became a burden to be involved in the games.

"I think the time was up for Martin. The Harry Arter row with Roy Keane, the booing at the end of the games. It was a culmination of factors and now we are in the position where change is needed.

"If you go back to the beginning of his time (in the job), he had a positive impact, but the last year has been very poor."

Kerr went on to suggest he would like to see Dundalk boss Stephen Kenny handed a chance to take over as Ireland boss, but he also suggested Mick McCarthy's return to the role would be welcomed.

"I would love to see Stephen Kenny getting a go at it. I think he's earned it," he stated. "I think he would be a good fit for the job, but I wouldn't have any problem with Mick McCarthy getting the job.

"Mick is available. I think he would be interested. He still has the enthusiasm. He's probably a better manager now than when he finished up in 2002 with the international team. But I'm sure there would be other candidates will emerge over the next few days, unless the FAI make a very quick appointment." 

Kerr was also keen to talk about the bigger picture in the Irish game, as he suggested the FAI's role in the slide in standards of the national team should now be considered.

"I think the game has been mis-managed here for years and years and now I think there's a chance, an opportunity for everyone that loves the game to demand an explanation for what's gone on, to demand some transparency," added Kerr.

"I think the focus now should be on the board who allow John Delaney to run the association in the way he runs it. That's where the focus should be now as much as it should be on the appointment of the senior manager and the under-21 manager.

"There's space and time now for a bit of a clean sweep I think and that's what should happen."

Meanwhile, former Ireland manager Johnny Giles found positives in the O'Neill era with Ireland, as he admitted the time was right to make a change.

"Martin did a lot of good for us and it's only two years since he came home a hero after Euro 2016, that's the way it happens in the game, people have short memories," states Giles.

"But when things are not going well on the pitch, the players take the blame, when things are going well on the pitch, the manager gets the credit, that's the way it has been since time immemorial in football, and I suspect it is the way it will always be.

"Yet when things are not going really well, then it comes back to the manager and questions start about his position. And nine times out of ten all that is correct and right. 2018 has not been good and I think that meant Martin had to pay the price."

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