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Ireland under Stephen Kenny are "laboured and hard to watch" | Kevin Kilbane

Former Everton and Ireland international Kevin Kilbane has not enjoyed watching Ireland play unde...

Cian Fahey
Cian Fahey

20:41 11 Oct 2021



Ireland under Stephen Kenny ar...
Soccer

Ireland under Stephen Kenny are "laboured and hard to watch" | Kevin Kilbane

Cian Fahey
Cian Fahey

20:41 11 Oct 2021

Former Everton and Ireland international Kevin Kilbane has not enjoyed watching Ireland play under Stephen Kenny.

Ireland beat Azerbaijan on Saturday to give Kenny his first competitive victory. The 3-0 scoreline flattered the home side as Ireland repeatedly created chances to score.

But that hasn't been the case for Kenny's side over his tenure, according to Kevin Kilbane.

Kilbane believes that the game against Azerbaijan was the exception rather than the rule. He doesn't discount that it could be a sign of progress but he's also not buying into the idea that Ireland were playing better under Kenny before this most recent victory.

"I actually thought it was exciting to watch at the weekend," Kilbane said.

"I don't think the team played well in spells, particularly after going in front, but there were spells where it was good to watch. Good attacking football at times. There were certainly spells where you were watching it and you were getting off your seat."

That's something that was lacking previously for Kilbane.

"Certainly for the majority of the games through this era, I haven't felt that way at all. I hadn't felt it in any way. So that was the most impressive thing I felt.

"There was a lot of penalty box excitement with chances created, risk-taking."

Gavin Bazunu kicked long more often against Azerbaijan than he had in previous games. It was proof that Kenny's team is adaptable. That was likely a byproduct of the home side stepping higher up the field, but in general, Kilbane was excited by Ireland in this game because of where they took risks with the ball.

"The risk that's been taken throughout the last 15/16 games or whatever, it hasn't necessarily been in the right areas and I think we've been caught out too often. That's how I viewed it. I haven't enjoyed watching the team, I have to say that.

"I'm hearing afterwards it's technically a way better performance and the team's playing a certain way, they're trying to progress. And I get that we have to actually give the team time to progress and things are going to be ironed out along the way.

"But it's been the lack of creativity in the team, just in the final third a few people taking a few more chances. That has been the notable thing that I've found.

"It's been very laboured and hard to watch."

But don't count Kilbane in the camp of people who are in a rush to remove Kenny.

"It's about progressing and the progressive style of football we're trying to teach the players a different style of play. Taking the ball in tighter areas, absolutely. That's only going to make the players better but it's been the lack of excitement that I've felt.

"Even against Azerbaijan we were outplayed with the ball at times. I was pleased with how we played on the counter attack. If I look across Stephen Kenny's reign as a whole, our best performances have been playing counter-attacking football.

"Portugal is the best example of that...I thought there was something to build on here."

Stephen Kenny and Ireland face Qatar in a friendly on Tuesday night.

Kenny praises "intelligent" Robinson after securing his first competitive win

Player Ratings as Ireland beat Azerbaijan

 

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