Republic of Ireland: Stephen Kenny says desire for own backroom team meant Robbie Keane couldn’t be accommodated

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April 10, 2020
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    New Republic of Ireland boss Kenny says manner of McCarthy’s departure ‘unfortunate’

    New Republic of Ireland manager Stephen Kenny says his desire to have “clearly defined” backroom team roles left him unable to accommodate the county’s record goalscorer Robbie Keane.

    Keane remains under contract to the Football Association of Ireland after Mick McCarthy’s departure but has now been left without an obvious role.

    Keith Andrews is assistant boss after working with Kenny in the under-21s.

    “From my point of view, I wanted my own backroom team,” said Kenny on Thursday.

    “I have the height of respect for Robbie Keane for what he has achieved in the game.

    “Keith Andrews has been my assistant for the last 15 months and I have a very good rapport with him.”

    Damien Duff and Robbie Keane together after the Republic of Ireland's defeat by Italy at Euro 2012

    Damien Duff is part of Stephen Kenny’s backroom team but there is no role for another ex-Republic star Robbie Keane

    Kenny lauds Duff’s coaching credentials

    In addition to goalkeeping coach Alan Kelly, Kenny has also named former Republic winger Damien Duff in his management team and he lauded the former Chelsea star’s emerging coaching credentials in a video news conference on Thursday.

    “With Damien Duff, the reports coming out of Celtic this season have been absolutely outstanding,” Kenny said.

    The postponement of the European Championship play-offs until the autumn – with Euro 2020 now moved to next year – forced the FAI’s hand in having to replace McCarthy.

    When McCarthy was appointed in November 2018, it was announced that Kenny would succeed him at the end of the Euro 2020 campaign but the coronavirus crisis means that the 2022 World Cup qualifying campaign is set to start next March in advance of the European finals.

    Manner of McCarthy’s exit ‘unfortunate’

    Kenny described the manner of McCarthy’s departure as “unfortunate”, adding that he had spoken to his predecessor since last weekend.

    “Mick has had a tremendous career as a player and manager with Ireland. He wishes the team well for all of the games coming up,” said Kenny.

    Kenny and the FAI both believe the Euro play-off semi-final against Slovakia and a possible final away to either Bosnia-Herzegovina or Northern Ireland are most likely to be pencilled in for late October or early November.

    As it stands, the Republic are scheduled to begin their Nations League campaign away to Bulgaria on 3 September with six games in total taking place up until 16 November in a group which also includes Wales and Finland.

    “If it [the play-off semi-final] is the first game [in September], I’ll make sure the team is prepared,” said Kenny.

    “But the most likely scenario, apparently, is late October or possibly even early November. If that is the case, it will give me a run of games.”

    Matt Doherty started at right-back in the Republic's last competitive game against Denmark when Seamus Coleman was ruled out by suspension

    Kenny says he is pleased with the Republic’s defensive strength which included Matt Doherty and Seamus Coleman

    ‘We’ve got a great defensive platform’

    Asked for his assessment of the squad he has inherited, Kenny heaped praise on its defensive prowess while admitting improvement was needed further up the pitch.

    “In the last game against Denmark, the back four of Matt Doherty, Enda Stevens, John Egan and Shane Duffy were terrific,” said the new manager.

    “Seamus Coleman was suspended [that night]. He’s been such a brilliant servant for Irish football and Ciaran Clark played a half in that game as well. So with those six, you’ve got a great platform.

    “We’ve got to improve the rest of the team in relation to how we’re set up and from an attacking point of view and how we can control games.”

    While the paucity of attacking resources has seemed to contribute to recent Republic managements adopting direct tactics, Kenny insisted he would not abandon his philosophy of passing football.

    “I’ve been given an opportunity. I’m not going to waste it – life is short,” he said.

    “I want people coming to the Aviva Stadium, looking forward to seeing a team that really passes the ball well and has great creativity and hard work also.”

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