The FAI’s decision to effectively appoint two managers may appease the masses, but it just further highlights their incompetence.
Mick McCarthy is the easy option and Stephen Kenny was the correct, albeit slightly trendy, choice for the Abbotstown generals to make. But the way in which they’ve gone about the appointment and the succession undermines not just one manager, but both.
Stephen Kenny has done more to put Irish football on the map than anyone at the FAI in the last decade and should rightly be selected as the one to bring Ireland to the next level in terms of player development and style of play.
He improved the likes of Chris Shields and Pat Hoban beyond all recognition and constantly replaced exports like Richie Towell and Daryl Horgan with players he would then go on to enhance with his training methods and man management.
It was an easy choice.
But the FAI don’t like the risk factor of someone who has, minus a brief stint in the SPL, never managed outside of Ireland. Perhaps it’s not of a high enough standard, they might think. The irony isn’t lost on me either, I can assure you.
McCarthy getting the gig was about as predictable as the Westlife reunion tour and his tenure will be far less anticipated. He’s supposedly the safe pair of hands to guide Ireland to qualification for the Euros, but you’d have to wonder how the FAI have come to the conclusion that his approach will inspire the current group.
Granted, they’ll at least have shape. What McCarthy can be marked down for in terms of footballing aesthetics, he definitely can’t be slated for in terms of the ignorance shown by his predecessor.
These two appointments, separately, make sense. But the arrangement between them raises some serious questions.
Will Mick McCarthy give it everything knowing full well that this is only a short-term project? Will the players actually take anything he says on board, given there’s an end date to his spell?
Are the FAI actually obliged to hand Kenny the job once McCarthy’s contract is up? And does McCarthy feel undermined if they are?
What if Kenny’s time with the U21s goes awfully? Do we then forget he exists
Is McCarthy’s spell extended if he wins the Euros? Can McCarthy actually be sacked at all? If he can, does Kenny then leave the U21s job?
Kenny has spent enough time dealing with the FAI to know they’re not always straightforward. He’ll undoubtedly be hesitant. McCarthy probably won’t be one hundred per cent committed.
While the right man, Kenny, is involved, he’s been put on the back burner because the guardians of Irish football say that his domestic success in Ireland doesn’t mean enough to grant him the job. The board needed to be addressed and while this could work out for the best, it’s little more than a poorly thought-out PR stunt by John Delaney and co.
Ireland will get the manager they deserve when Stephen Kenny takes over in 2020, but once again the top brass running the show are doing it with ulterior motives – to avoid scrutiny by appeasing everyone – and not, as they’d tell you, with a vision to the future.