Logic calls for Kerr as manager

THE FAI should not have to wait for Bryan Hamilton’s short-list to arrive at a replacement manager for Mick McCarthy. If they apply logic to the issue, Brian Kerr should be the next Irish team manager.

That may not be a popular suggestion. There are those in football who are seduced by the sound of a foreign accent.

There are others who are obsessed with the English scene. The fact that England looked to Sweden and appointed Sven Goran Eriksson as their team boss weighs heavily with them. Their attitude seems to be: where England go, we must follow.

The fact that we are so closely tied to England in every other way is a weakness. When we embrace their system, their standards, it means that England’s limitations are our limitations.

International football’s enduring attraction is vested in its variety.

Its fascination lies in the different philosophies that are evident in the approach of the different national teams - the World Cup final between Brazil and Germany this year was a glorious example.

The contest revolved around the struggle between the ultra-efficient, superbly organised, German team and the flamboyant, more spontaneous, football of Brazil.

Ireland’s football will always bear a close relationship to England’s for history, tradition and geographic location all influence it. The difference between England and Ireland lies in the different characteristics of the players; their personalities, their attitude to playing for Ireland, their pride in wearing the shirt. It would seem logical to believe a person familiar with Ireland, with the Irish players and with the strengths and weaknesses of the English game is best placed to create the spirit within the group that is needed to provoke the required performances.

Ericsson has not, it seems, interfered with the traditional England method, but the risk in appointing somebody from a different football culture is that he might try to impose a different approach to that with which players are familiar.

Several high-profile managers/coaches have indicated their interest in the position and most, if not all, of them are capable of doing a good job, but Brian Kerr’s claims are substantial.

There are those who will say the fact that he has not managed a club in England weakens his claims. Perhaps, but over the past 15 years he has built up lots of experience of international football.

He was assistant to Liam Tuohy when Ireland first qualified for a championship final tournament at any level when they played in Russia in the U18 World Cup finals. Noel O’Reilly, his assistant since then, was the third member of that successful management team.

Ireland have qualified for the finals of nine different championship tournaments since then.

If that record does not entitle him to a term in charge of the senior team, there is no logic in football.

The UEFA congress in Geneva last week took me out of the country when news of the sad death of Alek Ludzik filtered through. The sense of loss amongst the Irish delegation when I informed them was tangible.

Alek made an enormous impression when he made his debut as a 19 years old playing for Cork Celtic against Cork Hibs at Flower Lodge in 1969. He had just been signed from Derby County by Amby Fogarty who was responsible for bringing a succession of outstanding young professionals to Cork.

Alek was dressed in black that day and he lit up the scene with his athleticism, his superb technique and, above all, his limitless courage. He was one of the bravest footballers ever to grace the scene here.

It seems incongruous that one so young, so fit and so honourable should be taken from the bosom of his family so suddenly, but then, all things in this life are flawed. To his widow and family we extend our deepest sympathy.

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