Em­barass­ing Pat’s and Derry moves set league back an­other few years

Mc­Carthy is show­ing a softer side th­ese days but he is still well able to rise above non­sense

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Sport - - SOCCER - STEPHEN HUNT

THE League of Ire­land clubs who tweeted their sup­port for Stephen Kenny to take over the se­nior man­ager’s job are a dis­grace and an em­bar­rass­ment to foot­ball and the na­tion. If you won­der why some peo­ple ac­cuse the League of Ire­land of be­ing am­a­teur­ish, here is a prime ex­am­ple of it. Can you imag­ine Premier League clubs com­ing out and back­ing Gareth South­gate for the Eng­land job? They just wouldn’t do it — they would prob­a­bly be fined or even suf­fer a points de­duc­tion.

This is not about us against them. Yes, there are clearly is­sues between the FAI and the League of Ire­land clubs which need to be ad­dressed, and their re­la­tion­ship has to im­prove. But do it the right way.

The state­ments St Pat’s and Derry City put out are em­bar­rass­ing. It’s fine for pun­dits or ex-play­ers to throw their weight be­hind one of the can­di­dates, try to build mo­men­tum and ex­plain why they would see the ben­e­fits of Mick Mc­Carthy or Stephen Kenny in charge. But, quite frankly, it has noth­ing to do with the League of Ire­land clubs.

Re­cently, I had an in­jured player re­turn from Eng­land for as­sess­ment and treat­ment at an Ir­ish club be­cause the fa­cil­i­ties over here are bet­ter than his Eng­lish club. That shows how far the League of Ire­land is ad­vanc­ing and the strides it is mak­ing. All that good work is wasted when you see tweets like those from St Pat’s and Derry. They have set the league back sev­eral years.

If Stephen Kenny is ever go­ing to get the se­nior job, he does not need this kind of sup­port. He will get it on his own based on his abil­ity and ex­pe­ri­ence. He has a bril­liant record in Ire­land, but I have to ask why he has never man­aged in Eng­land, and oth­ers might too.

The good news is that if there is one man who can rise above this sort of non­sense and ig­nore it, it is Mick Mc­Carthy. Mick is man enough to re­alise that he can en­gage with some­one like Kenny to help him in the long run, en­cour­age him and per­haps de­velop him into the new Repub­lic of Ire­land man­ager.

And if Kenny is of­fered the un­der 21 job, as has been mooted, I think he would be fool­ish to turn it down. Mick Mc­Carthy will be strong enough to have Kenny on board, not ig­nore him. He could en­gage with Kenny and other League of Ire­land coaches.

As Mc­Carthy takes the helm to­day, he has a num­ber of is­sues which need to be re­solved. The first call must to be to De­clan Rice.

It may be too late now but if Mick goes around to Rice’s house, meets him and his fa­ther, puts his arm around the boy and talks about build­ing an Ire­land team around him, then we have a great chance of claim­ing him back.

Rice only has to ask West Ham team­mate Aaron Cress­well what he makes of Mick and as­sis­tant Terry Con­nor be­cause they recog­nised his tal­ent and brought a de­fen­sive side to his game at Ip­swich, and he went on to be­come an Eng­land in­ter­na­tional.

Sadly, it was time for change of man­ager of the Ire­land team. The per­for­mances over the last year have been poor and have only got worse and more des­per­ate. The team, the foot­ball, the fans, were flat. Martin O’Neill gave us some fan­tas­tic mem­o­ries but all reigns in foot­ball come to an end and when you start to lose the sup­port­ers, you need spe­cial per­for­mances to turn it around. We just didn’t look ca­pa­ble of that.

One of the big­gest is­sues I would like to see ad­dressed by Mc­Carthy is build­ing a stronger link between the se­nior coach­ing team and the youth teams so we have a clear iden­tity and pat­tern of play.

He has to un­der­stand the chain above him and below him and con­nect with the un­der­age coaches, who are des­per­ate for in­for­ma­tion. I am not say­ing that Martin O’Neill didn’t give our coaches in­for­ma­tion. I am sure he was po­lite and passed on valu­able in­sight and ex­pe­ri­ence. Giv­ing in­for­ma­tion is fine but then go­ing out and play­ing in a to­tally dif­fer­ent way to ev­ery­one else made no sense at all.

We need to have reg­u­lar meet­ings with the first-team man­ager and his coaches where they an­a­lyse all sorts of sit­u­a­tions with dif­fer­ent play­ers and the un­der­age coaches are free to ask why de­ci­sions were made.

The new man­ager will bring in a wealth of in­for­ma­tion, so spread it around and see if we can get the un­der 21s and un­der 19s, and so on, on the same wave­length as the first-team man­ager and his team. I un­der­stand the se­nior squad have to get re­sults but let’s all get re­sults in the same way. The youth teams are get­ting re­sults play­ing to a cer­tain pat­tern.

An in­ter­na­tional man­ager and his staff go­ing to games on a Sat­ur­day and Tues­day is no longer enough. Player per­for­mance and stats need to be scru­ti­nised, dis­cussed and used so that we can get the best out of them for the squad.

It is easy to say that Matt Do­herty should be in the side now be­cause he is play­ing reg­u­larly in the Premier League and play­ing very well. But he should have been in the squad two years ago.

Alan Browne has been let loose in a cen­tral mid­field role at Pre­ston this year and has been in good form in a strug­gling team. He is an en­er­getic, box-to-box player who has trans­formed him­self and plays every game. I un­der­stand to an ex­tent why Martin per­se­vered with other play­ers in the role but that has been Browne’s po­si­tion for much longer and he is un­doubt­edly an im­prov­ing player. He must have been spit­ting feath­ers th­ese last few weeks.

David McGoldrick was in­jured for a lot of the games un­der O’Neill but he is in the form of his life at Sh­effield United this sea­son and we haven’t got a link-up man used to play­ing in a 3-4-3 sys­tem, which was so sorely miss­ing in the Na­tions League games. Mc­Carthy al­ways knew how to get the best out of McGoldrick, who is ar­guably the in-form Ir­ish player in Eng­land.

Like the ma­jor­ity who played un­der Mick, I know he is the ideal can­di­date for the job. He will bring or­gan­i­sa­tion, struc­ture, re­spect, and there is a class to his man-man­age­ment which few pos­sess. He will bring con­fi­dence back to the play­ers and will want them to go out and play and ex­press them­selves and give it a lash. Ire­land teams un­der Mick al­ways did that, and sadly you can’t say that about the last few Ir­ish per­for­mances.

The gaf­fer I had to­wards the end of my ca­reer at Ip­swich was much softer than the one who signed me for Wolves. Your tastes, emo­tions and per­spec­tive change as you go through life. Mick has al­ways had pres­ence and a strong-minded char­ac­ter but he is def­i­nitely more lov­ing — and a bet­ter man­ager for it.

If Kenny is ever go­ing to get the se­nior job, he does not need this kind of sup­port

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