Kevin Doyle: Stephen Kenny the right man to lead Republic
Kevin Doyle scored 14 goals in 62 appearances for Republic of Ireland between 2006-17 and in an an exclusive interview with Ladbrokes the former Wolves striker gave us his thoughts on the national team.
Now, a horse breeder at his farm in Wessex, Doyle talked about where he stands in the Stephen Kenny debate and the performances of Jeff Hendrick, but he got things started with his thoughts on the goalless draw with Portugal and the 3-0 win in Luxembourg which ensured they finished the group stage in third place.
I didn’t think we resorted to a British style of play…we had the things you wanted to see from modern football
I don’t think Ireland could have done much more to be honest. The win against Luxembourg was excellent and it was deserved. I think that was why people were so frustrated with the home game against them, because we should be beating them. OK, we weren’t as good as we could have been in the first half, but overall the quality of our goals and general performance was excellent.
I don’t know what the Luxembourg manager Luc Holtz was watching. I thought we were very good, particularly in the second half. I didn’t think we resorted to a British style of play, we tried to play and press up the pitch and we had all the things you wanted to see from modern football.
Again, we were really good in the Portugal game. It was a good result to get against them, we were brave, we pressed them, there was no sitting back and they didn’t enjoy it. They certainly weren’t expecting that from us. It was a deserved point and on performance, we deserved to win it.
We weren’t just passing the ball for the sake of it, we were passing with purpose
I really enjoyed the games as well, and that’s what I have noticed a number of people saying; that they are starting to enjoy watching the games. It is positive, creative football. We weren’t just passing the ball for the sake of it, we were passing with purpose.
We definitely have a better chance of qualifying for the Euros. I just want to see us be more competitive now and for them to give us all some hope at least. It is amazing how a few games can change your perspective.
However, you can’t go from where we are now to saying we are going to qualify with confidence, but we would be in with a shout and that is good progress. If we don’t make it, we still have a promising group of young players who are still trying to find their own way at club football, never mind international football.
He’s on an upwards curve with them and I would champion him now
You couldn’t have asked for any more from Stephen Kenny recently. When it comes to Stephen Kenny, there are two camps – for and against – but I have always been somewhere in the middle. I thought he could have done things differently earlier on and some of his team selections were questionable, not to mention their performances.
I also don’t think there is anyone else who would have been better in the position. He had a group of inexperienced players, more so than any other Irish manager in memory.
He has had a very tough job and my view all along was to give him a chance so let’s see how he gets on. He’s on an upwards curve with them and I would champion him now. Results are everything and when things are going well, it makes the decision easy for CEOs, fans etc. He is the man for the job.
Kendrick went quiet in an Ireland jersey for a few years but is back to his best
The players look like they’re enjoying it. They look like they are full of confidence and that they know what they are doing. They are really playing for their manager too so I am positive heading into the next campaign. The entire team played well over the weekend. Nobody was poor and they all deservedly got praise. Gavin Bazuna’s save was just world class last night.
I also want to mention Jeff Hendrick, who has really blossomed under Kenny in the last few months. Anytime I have watched him play, he has been excellent. He is one of the older players, he has played for Kenny, and in return Kenny has rewarded him for it. They are good for each other. He went quiet in an Ireland jersey for a few years and now he is back to his best.