Football/Soccer

Stephen Kenny wants us to play with more style: Republic of Ireland defender Enda Stevens

Republic of Ireland's Enda Stevens has been impressed with how new manager Stephen Kenny has acquitted himself

ENDA Stevens says Stephen Kenny is “a manager who wears his heart on his sleeve” and wants the Republic of Ireland to play a better, more attacking brand of football.

The Republic of Ireland squad assembled in Abbotstown for the first time under the new senior manager as they prepare for their Nations League double-header against Bulgaria (Thursday, Sofia) and Finland (Sunday, Dublin).

Kenny, who has stepped up from the U21 role replacing Mick McCarthy, wasn’t about to dilute his purist philosophy he’s held since entering football management and told members of the media he wanted to change the face of Irish football.

"We don't want to just be successful, we want to be successful in changing the way Irish football is viewed worldwide. It's a big, lofty goal," said Kenny.

Stevens was a vital cog in Sheffield United’s season in the English Premiership where Chris Wilder implemented a similarly daring style of football and managed a brilliant ninth place finish.

Speaking to reporters via Zoom yesterday, Stevens was impressed with how Kenny conducted the first meeting and training session with the squad.

“He’s a manger who wears his heart on his sleeve,” said the former Shamrock Rovers defender.

“The dedication he puts in and how he wants us to play, it’s a big opportunity for us as there is a lot of international football coming up. He’s really passionate about it, he really cares and is desperate to do well. He wants us to have an identity and a way of playing.

“He just wants to instil confidence in us. He just wants us to play,” added Stevens (30).

“Mick [McCarthy] tried to do that and it kind of worked for a bit, we played well and had some good performances – we just didn’t get the results at times. We’ve a new manager now who wants us to play that positive football, more attacking football and it’s up to us to implement those ideas out on the pitch.”

On Matt Doherty’s move from Wolves to Tottenham Hotspur last weekend, Stevens joked that his international team-mate was enjoying the limelight a little too much.

“I think he’s just loving the attention he’s been getting over the last few days and having his face all over Sky Sports News. I think he’s still on cloud nine – he just needs his feet back down to earth over the next few days!”

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Football/Soccer