Martin O'Neill questions Stephen Kenny narrative ahead of crunch games 3 weeks ago

Martin O'Neill questions Stephen Kenny narrative ahead of crunch games

"I'm not so sure that's what the Irish fans are looking for."

Martin O'Neill has questioned the Stephen Kenny narrative that developing a young team that plays possession football is more important than qualifying for international tournaments.


O'Neill guided Ireland to Euro 2016 and even managed to get them into the knockout stages. So, he believes that Kenny should be aiming to hit similar standards.

Martin O'Neill questions Stephen Kenny narrative ahead of games against France and the Netherlands.

The former Aston Villa manager doesn't understand why Kenny gets so much leeway despite not qualifying for any major tournaments. In this exclusive interview with Ladbrokes Fanzone, he explains what he was judged on as Ireland boss.


"I don't know what Stephen [Kenny]'s job is, but I'll say this... mine was to qualify for the Euros. When John Delaney took me on in 2013, my job was to qualify for Euro 2016. That was it," O'Neill said.

"The only way for me to extend my contract into the World Cup campaign was by making the Euros. This is what the Irish fans are looking for; qualification for these tournaments.

"The Republic of Ireland, like Northern Ireland, don't qualify for too many competitions, even when they've got great players at their disposal.

"For one reason or another, they just haven't been able to do it. Jack Charlton did a fantastic job with a seriously brilliant group of players.


"When I first took the job on, of course I had all these visions of coming back to Dublin and finding big crowds celebrating in the streets because my team has given them something to cheer for.

"You know, we had some fabulous moments out in France. The opening game of the tournament for us, was in Paris, where 25,000 Irish fans and 25,000 Swedish fans shared the stadium.


"It was such a colourful, atmospheric occasion. For the crowd to be singing The Fields of Athenry, fifteen minutes into the game, is something which will always stick with me.

"That's all Irish fans want; qualification. They want to participate at these competitions. But qualification is extremely difficult; you're usually put in groups where teams are seeded above you, so it's always going to be hard.

"But if you can get there, it really is fantastic. That tournament was one of the most memorable times of my managerial career. Beating Germany in the groups, and then beating Bosnia to get there, it was an unbelievable time."

Martin O'Neill


Considering that Kenny failed to qualify for the Qatar World Cup last year and made little progress in the Nations League, O'Neill says that he is confused by the current manager's ambitions.

"I don't know whether that's Stephen's job. Stephen wants his team to play a possession-based style of football, and that's absolutely fine.

"And if your remit is not to worry about competitions, then again, that's fine.

"But I'm not so sure that's what the Irish fans are looking for. You've a generation of supporters here who are desperate to pass these memories on to their sons and daughters.

"That's so important. But, to qualify for these huge tournaments, you've got to start winning football matches."

Ireland will play France on Thursday in a game that they look unlikely to get a result from, meaning that their home fixture against Holland this Sunday could be a must-win game.

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