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Tuesday 13 November 2018

'We are too influenced by England'

Kenny: Irish players are not inferior

STRONG WORDS: Dundalk manager Stephen Kenny celebrates with the Airtricity League Premier Division trophy. Photo: Sportsfile
STRONG WORDS: Dundalk manager Stephen Kenny celebrates with the Airtricity League Premier Division trophy. Photo: Sportsfile

The league and FAI Cup double is not the only thing in Stephen Kenny's sights as the title-winning Dundalk manager says it's time for Irish football to rid itself of the obsession with England and look further afield.

It was a champagne-soaked weekend for Kenny's crew at Dundalk as they were awarded the Premier Division trophy after Friday's 5-0 demolition of Sligo Rovers.

And they now look to this Friday's clash with Bohemians as a chance for Patrick Hoban to go beyond the 29-goal mark for league goals in a season, something only two players have done in the history of the league.

Kenny caused something of a stir before that game with Sligo as his programme notes where he said he wanted to "dispel the current train of thought that is is the DNA of Irish players to play a more direct style of play, that somehow being Irish you were born with a skill deficit".

And Kenny was in no mood to retract his comments, stating that the game here is restricted by an obsession with England.

"I've been listening to that for years," he said of the belief that it's in the nature of an Irish player to be more physical that technical, referring to his side's close battles with a top Russian side in 2016.

"Zenit St Petersburg had much better players than a lot of the international teams have had recently. Witsel and Garcia in midfield, Giuliano, Kokorin, Dzyuba, all the Russian front players, Criscito from the Italian team at the back and you go out and you play them and you go toe-to-toe and you back yourself.

"This notion that players are inferior, you need to go and have the courage and the balance in the team to do it.

"I'm not lecturing anyone, I'm not talking about anyone, it's important that people understand there's a lot of talent there to be unlocked at every club.

"But people are institutionalised in the way they think: such a narrow view, I find it very frustrating, the narrow view people have.

"We're too influenced by England. There's no English coaches, the best is Eddie Howe. The rest are old-school in the way they think and the way they play. People are institutionalised by the way of thinking and the ideology about the game," he added.

"We need to look at Europe and South America for our influences, not England. Why do we narrow ourselves to that? We need to look at the broader picture of how the game is played."

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