Stephen Kenny draws a line under Robbie Keane omission: 'As a manager you must have the right to pick your own backroom team'

Thu, Apr 09 2020

None Credit: Michael P Ryan (ETPhotos)

Stephen Kenny heaped praise on Robbie Keane but insisted he needed to freedom to choose his own backroom team as Republic of Ireland manager.

The Republic of Ireland’s record goalscorer has been part of Mick McCarthy’s management set-up for the past 18 months but has been deemed surplus to requirements by the incoming Kenny.

Keane was handed a four-year contract by then-CEO John Delaney upon McCarthy’s appointment, which suggested at the time he would continue on once Kenny acceded to the position.

However, the appointment of Keith Andrews from the under-21s to the role of assistant manager, with Keane’s longtime friend Damien Duff joining from Celtic, has left no room for Keane.

The former Tottenham Hotspur and Inter Milan sharpshooter will continue in his role as Jonathan Woodgate’s assistant at Middlesbrough and is expected to settle his contract with the FAI.

“I have the height of respect for Robbie Keane – what he has achieved in his career is incredible,” Kenny said in his first press conference as senior international manager.

“We don’t know each other that well. Any time we have had conversations with each other we’ve got on fine, we’ve got on very well.

“As the manager you must have the right to pick your own backroom team, and it’s important there isn’t blurred lines in the roles.

“Clearly defined roles are important – that’s what I’ve learned from my own personal experience.

“Keith Andrews has been my assistant for the last year and a half and we have developed a strong relationship and a good rapport and way of working together.

“Damien Duff has come in and I’ve obviously watched Damien’s coaching career, but at Celtic he has played a pivotal role in terms of a potential treble for them.

“He is quite a creative and inventive training ground coach with great preparation, and attention to detail and high work ethic. That’s about selecting my own team, who will complement each other.

Kenny expressed regret that he had been unable to speak with Keane personally following his rushed appointment on Friday but said ‘there were complex contractual issues in relation to that.’

He added: “It all happened pretty quickly last weekend as you can imagine, late on Friday. I would have preferred to have a conversation with him, but the circumstances weren't right to do that.

“Listen, he's had a great playing career, he's the assistant manager of Middlesbrough, it’s a great club. I'm sure he has a good future in coaching for sure, as an assistant manager and a manager.”


Did you enjoy this article? If so, please consider becoming a patron of for just €4 a month to help us cover running costs.