Stephen Kenny admits dream job is probably over

Stephen Kenny has admitted he does not expect to continue as Republic of Ireland manager when his future is decided next week.

The 52-year-old’s current contract effectively ended with Tuesday night’s 1-1 friendly draw against New Zealand in Dublin and the Football Association of Ireland’s board will meet next week to decide whether to stick or twist.

Public support for Kenny’s tenure waned as the Euro 2024 qualification campaign he had built towards came and went without the success he craved, and he acknowledges that the writing is on the wall.

Republic of Ireland manager Stephen Kenny has won just six of his 29 competitive games in charge
Republic of Ireland manager Stephen Kenny has won just six of his 29 competitive games in charge (Niall Carson/PA)

He said: “Obviously the board are meeting next week. They’ve a decision to make and I respect whatever that decision is.

“Of course, it would be a dream to carry on and manage the team, of course it would, but my instinct is that’s not going to happen. That’s my own instinct and the evidence suggests that probably won’t happen, so I respect that as well.”

Kenny, who replaced Mick McCarthy as manager in April 2020, has presided over huge change but ultimately has won only six of the 29 matches for which he has been in charge.

He insists he has enjoyed the experience and is keen to carry on, but he is philosophical about the situation in which he finds himself.

He said: “From my point of view, there’s no greater honour than to manage your country, it’s a huge privilege.

“It was an emotional dressing room with the players there. Ninety per cent of the players, maybe over 95 per cent of players, their careers are on an upward trajectory and they’re only going to improve as players and as individuals.

“It’s been a privilege in that regard, the greatest honour you can have. Whatever you did in life, it would be a step down, no matter what you did, but that’s the way it is.

“We have had a lot of setbacks and I suppose that’s why I’m not getting a new contract if that’s the case. International football is ruthless, that’s the nature of it. I know that, I understood that, but that’s the way it is.”

On a night when he needed a resounding victory to support his claims of progress, he instead got more of the same, a tepid, toothless display in which a supposedly inferior side in terms of world rankings at times out-played his and might have considered themselves unfortunate not to be leaving with a win.

Adam Idah’s third senior international goal had given Ireland a first-half lead despite defender Nando Pijnaker’s justifiable protests that he had been fouled by Mark Sykes in the build-up, but they were unable to build upon it and Matt Garbett’s 59th-minute equaliser was little more than the All Whites deserved.

If Kenny left the Aviva Stadium with regrets over results, he had none over his radical approach to his dream job.

He said: “I’ve always been a big-picture person. Rather than to build something step by step, you have to see what the picture is and what you can achieve and what can be attained and then work towards that. That’s the way I see life.

“When you do that and you set the bar high, your fall can be acute. That’s the nature of how I’ve always managed, really. It leads you to incredible highs and setbacks. That’s the nature of how I see things.”