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Wednesday 13 November 2019

Richard Dunne: Plan is harsh on Mick

Departure date deadline on Mick McCarthy is not fair
Departure date deadline on Mick McCarthy is not fair

At the end of a good week for Irish football, the succession plan where Mick McCarthy hands the job over to Stephen Kenny is being discussed again.

And I have sympathy for Mick. The way he conducts himself, the way he is as a man, I don't think he deserves to be questioned about it all the time, being reminded that he's gone from the job very soon.

He has a very hard job to do and he's doing it to the best of his ability.

The way the FAI have organised it, it's all agreed and the contracts are signed so you have to accept it, accept that Mick has a job for two years, his aim is just to get to the Euros and after that a new man comes in.

Looking in from the outside it doesn't look fair - if you give a man a job, you should give him a chance to earn an extension, earn the right to stay there.

They have made the decision and that will give Stephen Kenny the two years to work with the younger players and build a squad for when it's his time.

The FAI have stuck their neck out on it, the hope it works and we'll see where it stands in two years' time.

It is a shame for Mick that if he does well and gets the team to the Euros, and maybe does well, he has to leave the job.

Mick has been honest with the players in the last week or so, allowing them to stay with the U-21s as they were trying to qualify.

He could have taken Troy Parrott or Aaron Connolly away from the U-21s to maybe sit on the bench for the senior team this week but he has done the right thing. He has helped the FAI out in general by allowing them continue their education with the U-21s.

A lot the details about the deal have yet to come out, like Robbie Keane's role, as Robbie has said that his contract is longer that Mick's.

Changed

I think Robbie's situation has changed around a bit since the deal was sealed as Robbie has a full-time job now, with Middlesbrough, which he didn't have at the time he came to the FAI.

Robbie has never tried to hide that his ambition is to manage a team one day, so by the time Stephen takes over the seniors, Robbie might be looking to branch out on his own as a manager in his own right.

Stephen has worked over a few years with his own staff, at Dundalk and now with the U-21s, and he might see a role for those people in the senior set-up. And if you give someone a job, he has the right to choose his own back-room staff.

When you are manager of the senior Ireland side you have the right to pick your own people and Stephen deserves that, but I also think that any manager would benefit from having someone of Robbie's experience around. Robbie could be that link between the old manager and the new one. If Stephen and Robbie want to work together it'd be great, if they go want to do separate things it's no harm either.

Impressive

The U-21 team were very impressive in the last two games but people need to realise that there is a world of difference between the under-age level and senior international football. It's so much easier to play in an U-21 game - you can play without pressure, play with freedom, there's hardly any crowd at the games. But you play in a senior match, especially a competitive one, and it's completely different.

My own record at U-21 level wasn't great. I played three games, we lost all three and I got sent off in one, so that was all part of a learning process for me as a young player.

The results didn't really matter with the U-21s, it was about your progression as a player. It's nice to be part of a team that wins games but you need to be able to handle the next step.

When you win an U-21 game it might make the papers and get a bit of attention, when you lose no one really notices as it's all about development. There is no hiding place at senior level.

It's the same with the clubs, you can get away with things in U-23 football in England but not in the first team. There's no room for error, you can't say 'oh well, he's still young, he's still developing'. Once you get a chance in the first team you have to be ready.

The Switzerland result was a good one for Ireland as we have an advantage now, but there's a tough game away to Georgia on the way.

Ireland have never had it easy in Tbilisi, it won't be pretty but if we can grind out a result it will see the team go to Geneva with confidence really high.

Watching the Ireland games you always want that bit more but a 1-1 draw at home to Switzerland will be seen as good result by the end of the group.

We have a very good chance of finishing in the top two and avoiding the playoffs, which would be rare for us, to qualify automatically.

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