To be fair to the FAI, I think they’ve made the right call in bringing Stephen Kenny in now as Ireland manager. I felt Stephen Kenny should have been given the job two years ago and this is his time now.
Already, there’s talk of bringing in some Nations League games in September, before Ireland’s Euro 2020 Play-Off game with Slovakia, which could now be played in November, according to Gary Owens. From Stephen Kenny’s point of view, I think that could work in his favour. It would be very hard on him to go straight into the Play-Off with no games under his belt and it now looks like those three or four Nations League prep games beforehand could be just what he needs.
The one problem with international football is that a manager doesn’t get to spend much time with the players and now there’s the possibility of Ireland having up to nine games between September and November. That will help Stephen because he’ll be able to imprint his style and get all the players on board straight away.
You will see a change in the style of football from the team that we’re used to seeing and Stephen will want to implement his style.
These Nations League games will help that, especially if we’re to play Slovakia in that Euro 2020 Play-Off game in November.
I think you’ll see changes in the Ireland team under Stephen too. I can see him bringing in players from the U21 setup like Jayson Molumby, who’s a very exciting player, Dara O’Shea from West Brom, Conor Masterson and Adam Idah, who scored that hat-trick for Norwich in the FA Cup.
As for Troy Parrott, who knows? You have to remember, Stephen left him out of the U21 game against Sweden when he came on and scored that memorable goal. Stephen has no problem making the big decisions and he’ll only pick players who deserve it on merit. Obviously, Stephen knows the League Of Ireland inside out and while he has the link there, he’ll only be bringing players into the squad if they deserve it.
Jack Byrne is the standout player in the league and he’s already been involved with Mick. I can see Jack’s progression continue under Stephen. As for some of the more familiar faces, who we were used to seeing under Martin O’Neill and Mick McCarthy, I think some of those have seen their last days in the green jersey.
It’s unfortunate with Mick, the way it’s happened, and while the FAI’s hand was forced a bit, they’ve acted very decisively and clinically. They’ve made the right decision because this also stops all the speculation which may happen down the line. You couldn’t have had Stephen managing Nations League games in September and then Mick going in for the Play-Off in November. It would have created far too much confusion so it’s the right thing to bring in Stephen now.
You’ve got to remember, Mick knew this was coming and people shouldn’t feel that Mick has been hard done by.
He’s been well paid for the job that he’s done and he’s going to walk off with a bonus.
There’s even talk that he’ll get another bonus if Stephen Kenny can get Ireland to the Euros next year so nobody should feel sorry for Mick. Realistically, he hasn’t performed great in the Euro’s qualifying campaign and he’s had his chance. He’s come out of it looking good and acted really well during all of this and he is a man with a lot of class and dignity.
What’s next for Mick? I can’t see him getting a big job but he is very renowned in the Championship and he did say a few months back that he will look for a new job in the Championship after his Ireland contract is up. I think middle to low-end Championship clubs is the best for him at this stage.
Stephen is bringing in Keith Andrews from the U21 setup, along with Damien Duff and Alan Kelly, but I don’t know what will happen with Robbie Keane. That’s the conundrum facing the FAI and this is another thing which goes back to John Delaney. There’s talk of an extension onto his contract for another two years and that’s a headache for the FAI, especially if there’s no role for him.
He’s now going to be the second-highest-paid employee and if there’s no role for him, it just looks ridiculous. He won’t be a part of Stephen Kenny’s team and I can’t see him staying on if he’s not part of the senior setup. This is just another problem that the current FAI have inherited from the previous regime.
But I’m delighted that Stephen Kenny is now manager of Ireland. I’ve no doubt that he’ll bring a lot of excitement to the roll.