Brian Kerr has been speaking exclusively to Off The Ball about Stephen Kenny replacing Mick McCarthy as the new Republic of Ireland manager with immediate effect, news of which was broken exclusively by Off The Ball this Saturday afternoon.
The former Ireland boss has spoken to Off The Ball's John Duggan and Nathan Murphy on Saturday about his sympathy for Mick McCarthy in this major decision taken by the FAI.
Twitter has been alive with the nation's reaction, the timing of which has taken many people by surprise considering McCarthy's contract was to run until July 31st, 2020, with Stephen Kenny set to take over the following day.
However, following the postponement of this summer's European Championships, the FAI has acted now (while paying a glowing tribute to the departing manager) so that Kenny can take charge for Ireland's re-arranged play-off against Slovakia, set for September.
When Kerr - who managed the senior Irish team from 2003 to 2005 - was asked about his thoughts on the ex-Dundalk and current Ireland Under-21 manager Kenny in his new role, the 67-year-old told Off The Ball:
"It will be a tricky first match for Stephen [against Slovakia in the play-off], building up that personal relationship and respect with the players on the first day; the first day of training, the first get-together and for the first game. It's such a massive game.
"It's not like they've given the job to someone who's unfamiliar with the Irish players."
Notwithstanding, Kerr was fully confident in Kenny's suitability when prompted for any advice he would share with the new man.
"I don't think Stephen needs huge advice from me! He's his own man. I know Stephen quite well, I signed him as a player going back many years. Over the years, we stayed in touch", said the former Faroe Islands manager.
"He's got great success at the level he's worked at and players who have played for him respect him greatly.
"He'll be making contact with the players who have been playing regularly in Mick's team and he will be having conversations with them in relation to assuring them he's liked what they've done.
"But he will still need time to make his own mind up.
"He'll also be putting his staff together, that'll be a very important one. I don't know what Robbie's [Keane, who was part of McCarthy's coaching staff] position is going to be."
Regarding the step-up to senior national management, Kerr said:
"It's a big jump, different type of players, different egos, it's not the same as underage football. They're the things he's going to have to deal with, but he's got time, he doesn't have matches at the moment.
"He has time to build those relationships and have those conversations."
Asked if he thinks there will be a significant overall in the style of play and the personnel in this new Stephen Kenny era, Kerr said:
"I don't think Stephen will throw in a heap of the Under-21 players who are not regular starters for their teams in England.
"Will he put them [the likes of Adam Idah and Jayson Molumby] in ahead of what would be Mick's regulars? I don't think there will be a massive change initially.
"He may fancy some of the younger attacking players than Mick has used, he might sprinkle one or two around the middle, but I imagine he won't go for a drastic changeover.
"But he might decide that the team needs a shake-up, that they weren't vibrant enough in the group [Euro 2020 qualification group], that we should have a real go and go for a more attacking and adventurous outlook."
Kerr continued: "Stephen's style has generally been an attacking style; brave, courageous, takes teams on irrespective of their reputation, always wants to get his team down to play ball.
"I wouldn't be criticising Mick McCarthy for the way the team played. Stephen will be coming in having achieved a lot with club teams in Ireland and at European level.
"He will want to carry on his style and way of playing.
"I don't think Stephen will compromise on how he wants the game played, but as time goes on and things develop, there will be times where he will have to tactically be flexible and respectful of the tactical nuances of the senior international game.
"He has a lot of experience and it's all been a learning process for him.
"While he's not familiar with the international team in terms of management, he is familiar with the environment of big matches, pressure matches, players knowing their roles, players being clear on their roles, giving players confidence, the preparation around the games, all of that, he has that experience."
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