With all the speculation that Martin O’Neill is set to take up the role of manager at Premier League side Stoke City, it leaves many people asking the question, ‘who will be the next Ireland manager?’
Dundalk manager Stephen Kenny’s name is being mentioned continuously as a possible replacement, and the Dubliner is currently fourth favourite at 12/1 with Paddy Power to become the next manager of his country.
Kenny is well known among the League of Ireland, Irish media and potentially across the pond with his amazing feat of bringing Dundalk to the Europa League group stages in 2016.
Under Kenny’s guidance, Dundalk were the first Irish team to win a point in European group stage competition and went into the last group game with Maccabi Tel Aviv with a chance to qualify for the last 32 of the competition.
This has brought his credibility up from a League of Ireland manager to potential Ireland manager.
If you speak to any of his past or current players, they all reference his phenomenal man management and motivational skills as his biggest strength.
Similar to O’Neill, having high level man management skills is a huge plus when it comes to managing an International team, essentially you have such little time with your players that time is precious, and you need to get your point across quickly and efficiently which seems to be a strength of Kenny’s.
Dundalk have the former Dunfermline boss under contract until 2020 which would mean that if the FAI were to come looking for Kenny, they would have to pay compensation to the Louth club unless there is a clause in place for such an event to occur.
The cost of wages for Stephen Kenny if he was to be in place for the next campaign (including compensation if needed) would be considerably less than any of the other managers on the FAI’s list which could be factor in the decision making process.
People will bring up the Brian Kerr period of management and focus on the negative points. These points were rumoured that certain players in the squad didn’t have respect for Kerr as his managerial credentials didn’t reach the height of their expectations.(Managerial experience included managing under age Ireland squads along with League of Ireland side St Patrick’s Athletic)
Would the same happen Stephen Kenny?
I would think not. Kenny has already managed current players in the Ireland squad including James McClean, Daryl Horgan & Sean Maguire.
His trophy cabinet is currently over flowing with individual and team titles and in his time spent abroad in Scotland he led Dunfermline to a Scottish Cup Final only to be beaten by Celtic in the Final.
It is a dream of Kenny’s to one day manage his country and if O’Neill moves on this could be his best chance, so yes we do feel Stephen Kenny is a real contender for the Ireland International management job.