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12th Sep 2023

Brian Kerr hails Stephen Kenny as ‘great football man’ but feels that now is a ‘good time’ for change

Niall McIntyre

While admitting that he admires Stephen Kenny as a ‘great football man,’ Brian Kerr feels that his time as manager of Republic of Ireland is up.

Kerr says that, with three games left in our Euro 2024 qualification phase, it would be a ‘good time’ for the FAI to start looking for a new manager.

The 70-year-old, who managed his country between 2003 and 2005, praised Kenny for the ‘clear picture (he has) in his head about how football should be played,’ but stressed crucially that there comes a time when you must be ‘pragmatic.’

Speaking on Virgin Media, Kerr went onto criticise Kenny for his overall record as Republic of Ireland manager and also called out the national team manager for what he perceives as a constant changing of the goal-posts.

“I thought it was a very good game,” Kerr reflected on Ireland’s 2-1 loss to Netherlands.

“I thought the team played very well and the support was fantastic.

“But that’s nothing new. At times Stephen puts great emphasis on the crowd as if it’s only been generated since he’s become manager…”

“The performance in the match was quite good, in the first half. But a recurring theme then that we run out of steam in the second half.”

“What we’ve had hasn’t been good enough. Five wins out of Stephen’s 26 competitive games just isn’t good enough. We need to be competitive to the last games in the group,” he said.

“Stephen is a great football man,” added Kerr.

“And he has a clear picture in his head about how football should be played and I admire him for that.

“And he has evolved as the years have gone on. He wasn’t the same with Dundalk as he is now.

“But no other manager has had the support or the resources or patience that Stephen has been given as manager of the Republic of Ireland team.”

“I don’t think the FAI will make a jumpy decision. But if they are thinking of a new manager, it would be a good time with the three games left.”

Kerr bemoaned the fact that, with three games left to play, Ireland are already out of the running for automatic qualification to Germany 2024. Ultimately, he feels that Kenny has had enough time to change the fortunes of the team, and that the overall patience has now ran out.

“Three games to go and we’re scrambling to not be second last or last in the group and unfortunately the case now through Stephen’s reign in four qualifications, he mentioned Serbia and Portugal last night but he didn’t mention Luxembourg.

“We lost to Luxembourg. It is recurring that we lose matches early in the group that put us out of the running.

“We’re all passionate about Irish football, passion didn’t just come with Stephen Kenny as the manager.

“We all want to see the team doing really well but we want the team to be in contention until the second last or last match and if you don’t quite make it there are consequences that a manager may lose his job. It’s happened to several of us.”

“We’re not even in contention, we’re now playing games that are almost dead rubber type games and it’s no longer about the future.

“Stephen, suddenly when the World Cup group fell apart, he started talking about how it’s all about Euros qualification and that is what he had been planning for that’s what he’s been building a team for. We’ve seen it, he’s built a team.

“Our team’s average age was older than the French teams’ and the Dutch team so we cannot claim it’s all about young players playing.

“Everyone wants to play nice football but sometimes you have to pragmatic!”

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