Kenny relishing Rovers' great expectations
STEPHEN KENNY'S managerial career has taken him around the country and even to Scotland, but yesterday he returned home.
The 40-year-old's appointment as the new manager of Shamrock Rovers had been long flagged, but after inking his three-year contract and meeting the press and fans for the first time, the Tallaght native could finally get to work on continuing the success that his old neighbours have become accustomed to in Dublin 24.
It was four years to the day that Kenny was unveiled at Derry City for the second time, and he admitted that he never thought he would leave a club who had embraced him as warmly as he had in return-- even sticking with the Candystripes through their ignominious relegation at the end of the 2009 season.
But the chance to take over at Rovers was too enticing to turn down. Champions of the last two years, European football and close to home -- Hoops supremo Jonathan Roche made Kenny an offer he couldn't refuse.
"It is the biggest club in the country at the moment. As a coach and as a manager, you want to be the best you can be, be as successful as you can be and that's my objective," said Kenny, who spoke evocatively of captaining his Old Bawn Community School team on the playing fields where Tallaght Stadium was eventually build.
"I have a great affinity with the area and my expectation is to continue the success that Pat Scully and Michael O'Neill had here."
When the Hoops board sat down to discuss the club's future in the aftermath of O'Neill's departure, it was straightforward enough. There may have been around 25 applications, but there was only one man they wanted.
They got him, paying Derry City €25,000 in the process.
Kenny cut a happy figure at the stadium yesterday, but he now faces one of the toughest tasks of his managerial career, having left the relative comfort of the Brandywell for his hometown club, which is filled with expectation.
O'Neill has set the bar high and the Hoops faithful, long starved of success, are hungry for more silverware as well as stylish football.
However, Kenny insisted: "It's not daunting for me because I have a fair degree of experience managing in the Champions League and UEFA Cup preliminary stages as well as the Scottish Premier League. I'm comfortable with expectation. I don't fear it -- I relish it."
So, can Rovers repeat their success of this year? "I don't know. You don't want to set yourself unrealistic targets, but you have to still aspire to things," said Kenny. "Domestically we have a real fight on our hands. There will be nothing given out -- you have to earn everything."
One potential problem facing Kenny is establishing a working relationship with midfielder Chris Turner, who was involved in a high-profile and bitter dispute with Derry's Eamon Zayed last season.
"What's done is done," he said. "There was obviously some comments made and a suspension that has been served, but you have to move on. You can't dwell on these things.
"There were good reasons for the club signing the players they felt that they might lose to rival clubs before they appointed a new manager. I can only come in today and see what we have and make decisions based on that."
Kenny, who may lose Karl Sheppard to Reading, will be looking outside the league for new signings.
He will have a budget similar to that which O'Neill had and, like his predecessor, will be able to offer players contracts for only 40 weeks.