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Brian Kerr suggests Ireland’s polarising tactical switch was influenced by new coach

Former Ireland manager Brian Kerr

Brian Kerr has raised the possibility that Stephen Kenny’s switch to three at the back with the Republic of Ireland over the most recent international break was influenced by new coach, Anthony Barry.

Last month, Ireland announced that Barry would be taking over from Damien Duff in Kenny’s coaching staff and he came highly recommended.

Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel praised Barry upon his Stamford Bridge departure and former Ireland manager Brian Kerr wonders if the newest addition to Kenny’s coaching staff played a role in changing the national team’s tactics over the past week.

Ireland coach Anthony Barry

As the wait goes on for Kenny’s first win for Ireland, Kerr discussed the strategy switch and suggested that perhaps Barry influenced the new formation.

“Where did it come from that we suddenly changed to playing with a back three or a back five at times in the game?” Kerr asked on Virgin Media Sport.

“Stephen has always been a four-at-the-back merchant.

“Even in his most difficult days at Dundalk when they were playing against highly-rated European clubs, he never changed away from a back four.

“Suddenly this week, with very little time to prepare the team and after having eight matches, he suddenly went to a back three.

“I wonder was there any influence by his new staff member coming in, Anthony Barry, in relation to that one.

“Because he’s coming from a Chelsea background and that’s how Chelsea play.

“When I look at the formation in the matches, even against Qatar, it was a very Chelsea formation with the players we have who are playing near the bottom of the Premier League or in the Championship. They’re not of the same class at all.

“I wonder did that have an influence on his thinking and why did he go there because I don’t think it helped. It caused confusion.”

Kerr, like former Ireland striker Niall Quinn, also expressed surprise that Kenny left out so many experienced players for last week’s defeats to Serbia and Luxembourg.

Ireland manager stephen kenny

Kerr, who managed Ireland between 2003 and 2005, is of the opinion that Kenny would pick different teams for the opening World Cup qualifiers if given the opportunity to do so.

“Even the goal last night (against Qatar), there was confusion in relation to the positions of the centre-backs when the goal was scored,” Kerr continued.

“There was good build-up out from the back from them but then when Dara O’Shea went in to win the ball out near the touchline, behind James McClean, we were very exposed in the centre-back position that you wouldn’t be in the back four. That’d be my view of it.

“I think of the bigger issue. I think if Stephen had his time again before these three games, particularly the first two, he wouldn’t make the same selections.

“He left five of the top six capped players out of the squad that had over 320 caps between them if you take [Shane] Duffy, [James] McClean, [Jeff] Hendrick, Shane Long and [Robbie] Brady.

“They were replaced, in some cases, by players with very little international experience and with very short club experience at senior level to go and play against Serbia in the first game when you need to get a result.”

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