Ireland have showed that they are heading in the right direction under Stephen Kenny but if they don’t get there fast, the manager could pay the ultimate price sooner than he would like.
Mick McCarthy, Giovanni Trapattoni and Martin O’Neill. All three men have two things in common when it comes to their spells as Ireland manager. Firstly, they are the only managers to bring Ireland to a major tournament in the post Jack Charlton era. The second is that all three failed to last beyond the qualifying campaign after their tournament exploits. This should worry current boss Stephen Kenny.
It’s clear to everybody involved in football in this country that a change in style is needed urgently. For too long Irish teams have failed to defeat teams of a similar quality due to their out-dated ‘put ’em under pressure’ way of approaching games. Effort and commitment could never be faulted but it ultimately wasn’t enough. The manner in which Kenny’s Irish team has played from their first game under the new boss has been a much-needed breath of fresh air. There is no longer a fear of losing the ball or being dropped for not complying with the rigid style of play adopted by previous managers. No, the former Dundalk boss has showed that he is unwilling to compromise in his desire to finally bring the Irish football team into the 21st century.
However, a level of discontent has set into the Irish public regarding the lack of results and goals that will continue to fester the longer the drought continues. McCarthy and Trapattoni failed to complete the next qualifying campaigns after reaching the World Cup in 2002 and the Euros in 2012 respectively. O’Neill wasn’t in charge when the Euro 2020 qualifying games began in March of 2019. The FAI moved swiftly to cut ties with their most successful managers of the decade as soon as Irish supporters lost faith in them. If the positions of those three men could become as fragile as they did so soon after incredible highs, the question remains: How soon will all stakeholders in Irish football become tired of encouraging performances with little sign of results improving?
For Kenny to change the culture of football in this country that has been in place since the appointment of Jack Charlton in 1986, he is going to need time and patience from all parties involved. Unfortunately for him, not even Ireland’s most successful managers have been afforded that. If he is not given it, Ireland will revert back to type and fail to make the necessary progression required to give us a chance of making major tournaments once again. For once, we must stick with our manager through the hard times because failure to do so could affect Irish football for decades to come.