A dejected Stephen Kenny after last Sunday night's defeat to the Netherlands. Ryan Byrne/INPHO
staying on

Stephen Kenny to remain as Ireland boss for rest of Euro qualifying campaign

“We are supportive of him completing the campaign and we hope against all odds that we still have a chance of qualifying,” FAI director of football Marc Canham said.

LAST UPDATE | 14 Sep 2023

STEPHEN KENNY WILL stay on as Republic of Ireland manager for the remainder of Euro 2024 qualifying campaign.

FAI chief executive Jonathan Hill confirmed at a press conference this morning that Kenny will not be removed from his position before the final three games, and will also be in situ for the friendly with New Zealand in November.

The association will then carry out an in depth review of the Group B campaign, one which the CEO said “qualification was set as a goal at the outset.”

Four defeats from the first five games have ended any hopes of automatic progress while a play-off spot is highly unlikely given that will be determined by Nations League rankings.

Kenny’s future in the role looks bleak, however, with The 42 one of a number of outlets reporting how the 11-person FAI board now seem set to usher in a change of boss with only the timing up for debate.

In a pre-prepared statement, Hill provided clarity on this and revealed no action will be taken until later this year: “We want to qualify for major tournaments, the public want it, the FAI want it and football in Ireland needs it. So we are, of course, disappointed to have lost the last two games [against France and the Netherlands] and this will be discussed at the next FAI board meeting in September, as we review all international windows as normal.

“While we might not have achieved the results we would have hoped for during this campaign, with qualification for the tournament set as a goal at the outset, I know the the manager and players are fully focused on the remaining matches this year, and they will prepare for, and deliver, those games accordingly.

“Once these matches are played, and as with the Women’s World Cup campaign, we will then conduct an in-depth review of the campaign in its entirety, and after the final friendly match in November against New Zealand. The board will then meet to consider this review and next steps.”

When asked to confirm whether Kenny and his staff would remain in charge, Hill added: “Indeed I am, and for the final friendly game with New Zealand in November as well.”

He was less equivocal should Ireland somehow find themselves in a play-off spot. “We will go through the games in October and November and we will review where we are in November and see what position we are in at that point. I can’t hypothesise now in relation to that. We will see where we are in November.”

Hill and FAI Director of Football Marc Canham were speaking jointly at a media briefing to deal with Kenny’s future as well as the fallout from the decision not to award senior women’s manager Vera Pauw a new contract following a review of the World Cup.

Hill confirmed that 31 people were spoken to as part of that undertaking, which was managed by Canham, and that the same kind of framework will be in place for the assessment of this Euros qualifying campaign under Kenny.

“I’ve spoke to Stephen about this and he’s fully aware of it. We will have a very similar review of the whole of the campaign with Stephen, with the staff and with the players,” Hill said.

“Everyone accepts, including Stephen, that results are a major part of that review process but it’s important that Marc and myself have the opportunity to ask some of the questions and talk about some of the wider areas, not just results, as part of that review.”

Canham continued on that issue. “The first point to mention is that of course we want success for our national teams and we want results, we want to qualify. All of the things that Jonathan said. If you do look at world football, though, over many years, and look at really high ranking teams or teams with similar sized populations, there is a direct correlation between the talent development and education system in terms of achieving that success.

“This long-term vision, and part of the decision around Vera, will be part of the review moving forwards, will be about the pipeline of talent we will be developing in our systems across grassroots, academies, and international football. It’s very clear that the quality and volume of depth of the high-performing countries has a direct correlation to the quality of the talent development system.

“We still want success here and now but we also have to look into that,” Canham added.

“Just look at Belgium and Croatia who are two countries that often get compared with us – similar size populations. Belgium had a clear vision 20-25 years ago and they’ve been the No.1 ranked team in the world for many years. That’s because of a development system not by chance. You need the coach to come in and work with the players and try to develop and achieve that success.

“On Stephen, we are supportive of him completing the campaign and we hope against all odds that we still have a chance of qualifying for the Euros. We know that’s very difficult and Stephen will be the first to admit that, and has done, but we are very supportive of him finishing the campaign.”

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