Shay Given has urged Irish fans to be patient with new boss Stephen Kenny when he begins his tenure in charge of the Boys in Green.
Kenny stepped in to replace Mick McCarthy in April – earlier than expected due to the coronavirus pandemic – and will take charge of Ireland’s European Championship playoff against Slovakia later this year.
The former Dundalk boss had impressed many during his spell with the Irish U21s, with Kenny’s side reaching the top of their European Championship qualifying group by playing eye-catching and attractive football.
Speaking to RTÉ’s Sunday Sport, Given showed his support for Kenny and outlined that he believes the Irish squad have the talent to play the way the new boss wants.
“We have a lot of quality players in the Irish squad, players who look to play from the back, who look to get on the ball in dangerous areas and look to play under pressure and not launch it to look for a breaking ball with a bit of luck.
“There’s a structure to Stephen Kenny’s teams in how they play and that’s quite refreshing, I do believe we have the quality of players who can do that.
“Stephen’s teams like to play football, that’s the way the game has moved on, we all need to get behind that; at times the crowd will have to be patient, the Irish fans have not been used to that over the years. Stephen knows he needs to get results, like any manager, people judge you on results, but he won’t sway from how he wants to set up and play.”
Given also gave his take on McCarthy stepping away from the role early, outlining that he was never a fan of the setup, which was meant to see Kenny taking charge after the conclusion of Euro 2020 this summer.
“I don’t think it was great from day one, giving Mick a two-year contract and having the guy after him ready to step into the job, I don’t think that was done right,” he admitted.
“Say Mick qualified for the Euros and went to the semi-final as Wales did, had the freedom of Ireland, and then you go, ‘Thanks Mick, see you later, Stephen Kenny, you are in’.
“I don’t think from the start it was a good set-up. Mick should have been told, here’s a contract for two years or four years, see what you can do, if you do well we might extend it, if you don’t then Stephen is waiting in the wings but it was strange from day one, that Stephen was waiting to take over. A new manager is coming in and you have to feel for Mick.
He continued, outlining that he believes McCarthy will feel hard done by having had to leave his role early.
“He had to leave with Covid-19, the FAI were forced into a corner. I think Mick will feel hard done by as he wanted to go to the Euros but they made the decision and we have to get behind Stephen, his staff and players and try to qualify.
“Any manager who sets up his team gets automatic respect, Brian Kerr or Stephen Kenny or Mick McCarthy or Trapattoni, whoever the manager is, they are the manager of our country and we have to get behind that person and support them.”