Brian Kerr happy to share his experience with new FAI hierarchy
‘It was the first time anyone in authority had rang me for 15 years’
Brian Kerr: “I don’t have an ideal job [in mind] and I’m not setting myself up for a job. I’ve had previous offers in football and not taken any of them.” Photograph: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Having spent 15 years on the outside peering in, Brian Kerr had plenty of pointers for Roy Barrett when he accepted a recent invitation to meet with the new Football Association of Ireland (FAI) chairman.
The former technical director, youth team and senior squad manager may well become part of the new regime Barrett is leading alongside chief executive Gary Owens and deputy Niall Quinn but the Virgin Media pundit stresses he isn’t touting for employment.
For now, at least, the wily Dubliner is just glad for the barriers to be removed and his opinions sought. Another sit-down with Barrett is planned.
The presence at the helm of John Delaney, whose first major decision as permanent chief executive involved sacking Kerr in late 2005, ensured his exile from the game he served so diligently was particularly painful.
Like fellow former international manager Eoin Hand, who had the temerity to challenge Delaney’s decision to make him redundant, Kerr didn’t receive as much as a complimentary ticket for home matches.
Delaney’s demise last year, and the subsequent clearout of his disciples, has made Kerr more optimistic about the future of Irish football.
He enjoys a long friendship with Gerry McAnaney and it was the new FAI president who facilitated the meeting with Barrett.
“Roy invited me to meet him for a discussion,” explained Kerr. “I was happy about that because it was the first time anyone in authority had rang me for 15 years. “The only previous contact was from the former president Milo Corcoran – Lord rest him – asking would I become a candidate for Renua in the 2016 general election.
“We reviewed whatever my relationship was with the FAI, giving him my views on what they should do and where they should go. I won’t go into detail about the meeting but we agreed there would be another chat. I might end up getting a ticket for an international match; that would be a start.”
What such a basic gesture ultimately translates into is the lingering question.
Ireland’s top quartet of players in the recent past – Robbie Keane, Damien Duff, Richard Dunne and John O’Shea – developed under Kerr’s tutelage and a similar development role to aid the next generation has been widely floated.
Even a dual role with Duff in the upcoming Under-21 vacancy remains a possibility.
“If you’re asking if I’m going to go back into management again, I’ve no idea,” said the former double title winning manager with St Patrick’s Athletic.
“I don’t have an ideal job [in mind] and I’m not setting myself up for a job. I’ve had previous offers in football and not taken any of them. Whatever job I had at the time was ideal. I’m happy with my current role in punditry because it gets me to games.
“Did I enjoy coaching? Yes, I did. Did I enjoy managing teams? Yes, I did. Did anything that I’ve done ever match the buzz of being part of teams winning matches? No. That’s why people go at it. They get sacked and go again.”
Whether or not Kerr swaps his three-piece suit in the studio for a tracksuit, he’s advised the FAI to alter their recruitment procedure.
“It seems to me that you either had to be a FAI employee or former international to coach the squads,” he observed. “Someone in the leadership of the organisation thought it nice to choose ex-players as assistant managers.
“I assume it would be more open in the future, that people who’d earned their stripes in football management would get an opportunity if there’s jobs going.
“My view is that those former players were actually imposed on the managers without them having a choice.
“That was really weird but there was a lot of strange things during that regime.
“It was odd that Mick McCarthy’s assistant [Robbie Keane] got a longer contract than him.”
Doubtless Barrett was appraised by Kerr of the depth of change required to rid the association of its old habits.