I'll do it my way: New Republic of Ireland boss Stephen Kenny
NEW Republic of Ireland manager Stephen Kenny says he won’t dilute his football ideology and wants the senior team to set a template for the rest of the country to follow.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Dubliner’s unveiling as new senior manager was done by video link yesterday during which he confirmed Seamus Coleman will remain as team captain and how recruiting Robbie Keane to his backroom team was never a realistic prospect.
The new boss also believed the relatively late arrival of central defender John Egan had the capacity to change the way the team plays.
Also, Kenny is also hopeful that Ireland’s twice delayed Euro 2020 play-off with Slovakia could be re-scheduled for October which would mean the team will have played a few games under their belts before their crunch match.
The U21 boss, who takes over from Mick McCarthy, made it clear he wasn’t criticising any Irish managers of the past – but reiterated his stance that it was not beyond Ireland to play with more control than in years gone by.
“I'm not going to sit here and criticise anyone, particularly the previous managers,” he said.
“I just didn't like that train of thought and people had that opinion that it was in our DNA to play long ball and that our players had the characteristics over the generations to play in a more direct way and that idea was promoted. I disagreed with that fundamentally and I still continue to disagree with it. But you have to try and prove it otherwise.”
Kenny added: “It’s very important that in every game we have the ambition to control the game. My whole ideology is based on controlling the game. There are many ways you can do that – you overload the midfield, interchanging positions when you are playing against teams who are ranked higher and perceived to be better opposition.
“This is not a soundbite, I mean it, it’s something I strongly believe in – I would like schoolboy teams and academy teams throughout the country to look at the senior international team and think that’s how we want to play. That they connect with it at that level. That is my dream. That they look at this team and think: ‘That’s how we’re going to play’.”
With the hope that Damien Duff’s role as senior coach will be a full-time come August, Kenny acknowledged the former international had to discuss his contractual obligations with Celtic where he also coaches.
With Keith Andrews assistant manager and Alan Kelly continuing as goalkeeping coach, Robbie Keane was surplus to requirements having been part of McCarthy's backroom team and two years still to run on his contract.
“I have learned as a manager what works for me and what doesn’t work for me,” he said, referring to Keane’s “complex contractual arrangements” with the FAI.
“You learn through your experiences and you must have the ability to pick your own backroom team. The second thing, what works best for me as a manager, is I don’t want a huge staff and everyone must have clearly defined roles.”
Kenny was equally emphatic over Donegal man Seamus Coleman continuing as captain, describing him as a “great ambassador”.
“I just think his preparation, how he carries himself. His overall commitment to Irish football makes him an absolute stand-out captain for us.”
Egan only came into McCarthy’s first XI after Richard Keogh suffered a serious knee injury – and Kenny quite clearly is a huge fan of the Sheffield United defender.
“Egan transforms the way we play, that is a big transformation for me. The type of player he is, he gives us another dimension in how we defend and more importantly how we open up the pitch.”