Aaron Connolly labels criticism of Stephen Kenny as ‘ridiculous’

Brighton forward backs Ireland manager to be a success in World Cup qualifiers

Aaron Connolly has backed Stephen Kenny to be a success as Ireland manager. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Aaron Connolly has backed Stephen Kenny to be a success as Ireland manager. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

 

This year has been somewhat bittersweet for Ireland manager Stephen Kenny but Aaron Connolly says he can look forward to 2021 with the complete support of his dressingroom.

The Brighton forward added his voice to the criticism of the leaking of a team meeting last month, when a complaint surrounding a ‘motivational video’ shown to players ahead of the friendly with England ended up in an English tabloid newspaper.

The 20-year-old missed that game through injury, but he has come out strongly against the story that resulted in public figures in Britain calling for the former Bohemians manager’s sacking.

“It was nonsense, wasn’t it,” said Connolly. “I’m not really sure why it came out in the first place. I think I saw James McClean wasn’t happy with it as well; I don’t think anyone was.

“It shouldn’t be coming out at all. The criticism the gaffer was getting, and people trying to get him sacked, was just ridiculous.

“I know I definitely wasn’t happy with how it came out and I’m sure a lot of the squad was the same. There was nothing wrong with the video.”

Ireland ended this calendar year on an historic low, with Kenny recording three draws, five defeats and just one goal in his eight games in charge.

In mitigation, the Dubliner has dealt with an unprecedented run of bad luck due to Covid-19 regulations and injuries, and Connolly is certain things will turn around once the manager has a full complement of players at his disposal. Ireland’s next game is against Serbia in the first World Cup qualifier.

“I think the drought will end first game in the World Cup qualifiers, no doubt about it,” Connolly said. “We’ve gone on a little run without goals and wins, but everyone in the squad has full support for the gaffer.

“The way we played; we’ve deserved wins. We haven’t scored or got those wins, but the luck will change and I know for a fact it will in March.

“Then people will stop criticising the gaffer and thinking he needs to go. It’s been ridiculous. I don’t think anyone should have to feel for him, because he’s going to be a really good manager for Ireland. I know he’ll do good things for this team.

“But I feel for him getting the stick he’s getting, because I don’t think it’s warranted – I don’t think it’s warranted at all. He’ll do big things with this team. It’s a bit ridiculous the criticism he’s getting.

“I don’t think you can judge a manager who was missing 13, 14 players on the last trip, through coronavirus and injury.

“If we have a fully fit squad in March, I’ve no doubt we’ll be in with a big chance of qualifying for the World Cup.”

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