Gareth Farrelly believes that the FAI need to have a strategic plan in place right through the game, but fears we may be making the same mistakes all over again.
The former Everton man feels that the state of Irish football is at a critical juncture, where making the right decision is vital.
“Ireland’s at a critical position, this isn’t looking at a problem now, it’s at an absolute bigger level because from top to bottom, there’s not a lot you can look at with any confidence and with any certainty can say that this is best practice or working properly.” Farrelly told Pundit Arena.
The six-time capped international questions what the strategy is when appointing a new manager.
“For me at the moment, it is important to know and understand what the job description is, I think people should be informed what the plan is before talking about who is going to be offered the job and who is the right person.” Farrelly said.
“There are lots of names that get bandied around but there has to be some critical thought put into the strategy moving forward. Are you looking for the short term option or are you looking for the long-term, somebody capable of developing and implementing best practice that is going to benefit everybody in Ireland? This question goes straight to the organisation itself. People will either step up and embrace it or they won’t. Unfortunately all the evidence points against this.
“I anticipate that it will be the usual situation where there will be a quick appointment done to try and stem criticism and to try and placate everybody again for a short-term period. At the end of the day, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome.”
It would seem that Farrelly is correct in his assessment. Reports are suggesting that Mick McCarthy will be appointed as early as Sunday due to the fact that UEFA are in town next weekend.
However, change isn’t just needed at the top, but all the way through the game. Farrelly believes that Ireland has always been capable of producing talented footballers.
“There’s brilliant talent in Ireland, I don’t buy into the fact that we don’t produce talented player’s anymore, but you have to develop them properly.
“You have to give them the correct environment to develop and flourish. That can be said of the young coaches as well. You are only as good as the person teaching you.
“So there has to be a plan in place for that and that has to be to the strength of Irish football, its identity. I feel that has been lost a little over the past few years. There’s some amazing schoolboy clubs, some amazing coaches, but they struggle to blossom and develop because of the system that they are in.
“They become disillusioned, brow beaten.
“That’s one element to this, it isn’t rocket science. Look at what Iceland have done, look at the people that have continued to develop young players and actually put a proper focus and resource on it.”
“It is easy to say Iceland or reflect on somebody enjoying success but invariably the foundations and resources for this success were started years ago. We see success and tend to not give thought to the hard work and bravery that may have started that journey years ago.
“I’m a traditionalist, I’m incredibly proud of my country, I came through that system, but the game has changed exponentially in that time. You can’t even compare the differences. I am constantly looking in Ireland, and I don’t buy into this narrative that there’s no talent there. Even in the squad at the moment I think there is incredible talent there.
“I am fortunate to see the amaing work that, for example Alan caffrey and St. Kevins do at first hand. Unfortunately, in Ireland it seems that people will expend more energy trying to stop you succceeding than make the resources available to assist the attainment of success.
“It is not easy but people are now starting to question what they are being told. They don’t believe anymore. There is always opportunity but you need the right people with the right skills in the right job. I don’t believe that is there at this time.”
Farrelly points to rugby as an indicator of what can be achieved when a system is built to benefit everybody in the long run.
“We beat the All-Blacks last week in rugby, and it gave the whole country a lift.” Farrelly said.
“Football is capable of that, but the point is, what do you want? Do you want a short-term fix? If you do, then you need to have a specific manager in mind who will help in the short term or do you want to put a plan in place that is going to benefit everybody over a longer period of time?
“If so, then it needs to be a different plan, and then the next part of that is do you think the leadership are capable of delivering this plan?”
Proper planning from top to bottom is something that has been severely lacking in Irish football for well over a decade, but only now is it being called into question in the mainstream media. Something that does not sit well with the former international.
“I don’t understand why it hasn’t been asked, and there’s been an uneasy alliance because of that inter-dependency that everybody is reliant on each other and that we’re not going to seek to expose or ask the correct questions. There needs to be an independent review of the FAI. They can’t do it themselves.
“Everything is easy in hindsight but when things go wrong that’s when you realise we should have been asking these questions all along.”
“My fear is how much ground we have lost. I remember speaking with Alan Caffrey years ago and discussing the appointment of Dan Ashworth as Technical Director of the FAI. He had enjoyed success at West Brom from the Academy up to the Technical Director role.
“He had a plan which was built on developing players within and elite structure. It was resourced correctly and he employed excellent people.
“It is no coincidence that England have improved year on year, have challenged at younger age and are now competing to win tournaments.
“The senior team has started to see players come through to the first team. It wasn’t cheap rhetoric. What have we got? Who can we say is really at that level? There is no easy answer. It is to be hoped though that we are not going to have a new dream team and be having this conversation again.”