Stephen Kenny insists he’d like to remain on as Ireland manager beyond 2022 but admits he’ll have to earn the right to a contract extension.
Speaking for the first time since the FAI opted to accelerate their succession plan in light of the coronavirus disruption to football, Kenny also revealed he hadn’t spoken to Robbie Keane.
Ireland’s record goalscorer has been left in the lurch by Kenny declining to retain him on his backroom staff despite him remaining under contract with the FAI for another two years.
The new boss replaced Mick McCarthy's coach Keane with Damien Duff, who he says impressed him on the Uefa Pro License course run by the FAI.
Kenny’s first game, as it stands is the Uefa Nations League opener in Bulgaria on September 3, with the Euro play-off in Slovakia likely to be held the following month, with the final in November.
His vision, when asked today, is to steer Ireland to the Euro finals, now deferred until June 2021, and so accumulate an unprecedented number of senior international games over a year.
He’s determined to prove himself worthy of another contract past late 2022 when the World Cup is to be staged in Qatar.
“In my own head, if we can qualify for the Euros that we’ll have up to 17 matches, 13 competitive and four friendlies,” he said during a video press conference from his home in Blackrock, Co Louth.
“That’s never happened before and it’s something I’ll try to make happen. What an opportunity that is and I’d love everyone to be part of that.
“For me to get a longer contract means having to earn it with level of performance and how we play.
“This, for me, isn’t a stepping-stone for another job. Managing Ireland is my ultimate honour.”
Kenny also explained the rationale for replacing one centurion with another on his coaching staff.
“I’m sure Robbie will have a good career in coaching, eventually moving into management,” he said of Jonathan Woodgate’s assistant at Middlesbrough.
“It all happened pretty quickly from late last Friday and ideally, I would have preferred to have had a conversation with Robbie. The circumstances weren’t right and there’s complex contract issues.
“Keith Andrews is my assistant and we’ve worked really well over the past year at U21 level. It’s important not to have blurred lines on your coaching staff, that roles are specific and don’t crossover.
“Damien has had a brilliant year at Celtic, helping them do well in Europe, and our coaching coordinator Niall O’Regan asked me to come to observe the Pro License courses.
“Damien was selected by our own group to go to Switzerland to put on session to all the other coaches in Europe.
“Keith and Damien are modern-thinking coaches who have coached both at club and international level. That’s very important with technology progressing rapidly.”