long-term vision | 

'We have talked generally about the progress of the side' - FAI boss coy on Stephen Kenny's future

A decision of Stephen Kenny's future will be make in November says FAI chief Jonathan Hill. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

A decision of Stephen Kenny's future will be make in November says FAI chief Jonathan Hill. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Daniel McDonnell

FAI CEO Jonathan Hill has said he has no problem with Stephen Kenny talking about the long-term vision for his Ireland squad, but has indicated that the proper discussion of the manager’s future will take place in November.

Hill refused to answer directly when asked if Kenny had the full backing of the FAI, yet he also said he could understand the context of the manager’s comments around building a squad for the 2024 European Championships.

He said the FAI board wanted the team to be competitive in this World Cup campaign, but were ‘realistic’ about the prospects of a third-seeded team in a competition with limited places (13) in comparison to a Euros campaign (24).

“We have talked generally about the progress of the side,” said Hill. “We know he has a contract now until July 2022. I am not uncomfortable with him talking about where he sees a young group of players going.

“We’ve talked about a medium- to longer-term plan, in the context of the creation of our strategic vision. That strategic vision is four years. It is a medium-term one. I don’t think it is unusual for any manager to be looking at the development of his team. I want us to qualify for World Cup 2026.”

Hill was guarded when pressed for his take on Ireland’s return of just two points from a possible 15 in the doomed 2022 tilt.

“I was going to say there has been a range of performances and there has been a range of results,” added the Englishman, who gave special reference to the quality of the display in defeat to Portugal.

“That is the reality of the process thus far. Everyone knows that. They have seen what has happened. As I say, we will review and we will address as we go on. But I say again: We start every game in the hope and expectation of winning.”

Hill mentioned the ‘very very positive’ crowd in Tuesday’s 1-1 draw with Serbia, but said the board as a whole will sit down in November to look at the picture of the campaign.

“We will discuss all the issues and we will have our reports that we will look at and we will review them accordingly,” continued Hill, speaking at the announcement of Sky Ireland as the new primary sponsor of the women’s team with the search for a backer for the men’s team continuing.

“One thing I will say about the board over the last 10 months that I have been involved is that there is a really open process there so everyone will be able to give their view.

“This isn’t about one person. It isn’t the view of one person, it is the view of 12 men and women. Hopefully we will do that in a calm and considered manner.”

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