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24th Mar 2022

Roddy Collins criticises ‘tactically redundant’ Stephen Kenny

Luke Jennings

Roddy Collins Stephen Kenny

“He’s not tactically good, tactically redundant I would say.”

Roddy Collins has criticised Stephen Kenny’s performance as Republic of Ireland manager so far and said that the national team have performed “abysmally” in three competitions under the former Dundalk coach.

Collins came up against Kenny during the pair’s time as managers in the League of Ireland. According to the former Carlisle United boss, the current Ireland coach, who recently extended his contract until 2024, “was never a good tactician.”

Roddy Collins Stephen Kenny

Roddy Collins: Stephen Kenny’s tenure as Ireland boss has been ‘unimpressive.’

Kenny has been in charge of Ireland for 20 matches so far and the team have won four games during his tenure.

On the surface, those bald statistics appear unsatisfactory. Yet, within the wider context, Kenny has arguably done a good job. Following a difficult 2020, Ireland also experienced an upturn in the final few months of 2021.

Kenny’s side recorded draws with Serbia and Portugal at home, and beat Azerbaijan and Luxembourg away to finish third in the World Cup qualification group. With the Uefa Nations League coming up in June, and the qualifiers for Euro 2024 on the horizon. The Irish team appears to be on an upward trajectory.

However, Collins isn’t convinced that his former League of Ireland rival is doing a good job.

Roddy Collins

“It’s been unimpressive,” Collins told SportsJOE about Kenny’s reign ahead of Ireland’s friendlies against Belgium and Lithuania later this week.

“We were told we’re gonna play this magical football that will fill stadiums. We’ve been through three competitions abysmally. It hasn’t been good, it hasn’t been good at all.”

The former Bohemians manager also talked down the positivity surrounding the recent wins, as Ireland were out of the running to reach the World Cup at the point.

“They were dead rubber games (Ireland’s wins over Azerbaijan and Luxembourg). People were saying they were qualifiers, they weren’t, there was no qualification at stake.

Roddy Collins

Collins criticises Ireland’s performances under Kenny.

In September 2020, Ireland were leading Serbia 1-0 in a World Cup qualifier but went on to lose the game 3-2.

Collins pins the blame for this loss on, in his words, Kenny’s lack of tactical acumen.

He also said that if  Gavin Bazunu hadn’t saved Cristiano Ronaldo’s first-half penalty in the 2-1 away defeat to Portugal last September “it would have been a cricket score.”

“We were a goal up against Serbia, second half they played three up-front, and we never reacted to that,” the 59-year-old said.

If you look at that match again, someone should have copped onto that straight after half-time. Instead, we left three-on-three.

“Against Portugal, the kid Bazunu saved a penalty against Ronaldo, that was brilliant! If that penalty would have went in it would have been a cricket score.”

Roddy Collins

Collins says Kenny ‘was never a good tactician.’

Collins, whose autobiography ‘The Rodfather,’ written with Paul Howard will be published in October 2022, credited Chelsea coach Anthony Barry with the upturn in results last year.

Barry has since left his role with Ireland to take up a position with Belgium, and Kenny has replaced him with Queens’ Park Rangers coach John Eustace.

Roddy Collins

The former Shamrock Rovers manager credits Barry for Ireland’s formation switch to a back-three with wing-backs.

According to Collins, Kenny’s tactics had always been “one-dimensional.”

“The new system was brought in by the chap (Anthony Barry) from Chelsea,” Collins said.

“Stephen normally throughout his career would play with a flat-back four. When that change came in, I was happy to see it. I’ve seen Stephen over the years be one-dimensional in his formation.”

“He’s not tactically good, tactically redundant I would say,” Collins continued.

“But, he’s a good motivator, players like him. He has a good eye for players.”

Collins highlights feedback from Kenny’s spell in Scotland.

Collins said that his view on Kenny’s tactical acumen partly stems from speaking to some players who worked with the Tallaght-native at Dunfermline for a year between 2006 and 2007.

The Scottish side reached a cup final and experienced relegation during Kenny’s time in charge before he returned to the League of Ireland to coach Derry City for a second spell.

“I was talking to some of the lads within his dressing room in Dunfermline, and tactically they said it wasn’t good,” Collins said.

“Tactically, the higher you go up, the quicker you need to see problems. That’s where my argument is. He hasn’t worked high enough, for long enough to adapt and to become astute to see things before it happens.

“There’s no good in reacting the something when you’re a goal down. Stephen for me was never a good tactician.”

Roddy Collins Stephen Kenny

The former Athlone Town manager said Kenny’s new contract will be judged on results solely.

“The players want to play for him, he has the supporters on board due to politicking, and that’s a part of the job, but it’s all about results now. The politicking is over now.

“It’s game on now, if he doesn’t win games he’s gone.”

Collins was asked if he believes Kenny will guide Ireland to Euro 2024. He responded with a blunt “no.”

Roddy Collins is an ambassador for Elite Fives 2022, Ireland’s biggest amateur five-a-side football tournament. The event takes place on June 25th and 26th at the AUL Complex in Dublin. Tickets can be purchased on Eventbrite.


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