Football: Kerr Was Needed So Too Was Brian; the Ireland Job

Article excerpt

Byline: Alex McGREEVY

THE son of a one time boxing champ has delivered the knock out punch in the race to replace Mick McCarthy as the next Irish soccer boss.

Brian Kerr was last night formally approached by the FAI to take up the 500,000euro position.

Kerr will be unveiled as the new manager after an FAI meting on Tuesday and looks set to bring former international defender Chris Hughton in as his right hand man.

The crowning of Kerr completes an educated rise as a coach through the ranks of Irish soccer that has covered one time League of Ireland giants St. Patrick's Athletic and the most successful ever era for international underage teams.

His expected appointment will delight the likes of Damien Duff, Robbie Keane and Richard Dunne who had touted him publicly once he made it known that he was interested.

Nicknamed 'Greener' he was the people's favourite throughout the race with over 60 per cent of those polled regularly nominating him as their preferred choice ahead of such luminaries as Bryan Robson, Philip Troussier, Peter Reid and former Irish internationals Frank Stapleton, John Aldridge and Kevin Moran.

Kerr sowed the seeds of his success during a glorious 1997 and '98 when he propelled Irish teams to the forefront of world soccer in underage competitions.

But it was a equally impressive two and a half hour interview in Dublin on Wednesday week last that convinced two members of the three man FAI panel that he was right for the job.

Kerr was also highly recommended by Bryan Hamilton, the FAI's appointed 'advisor', recruited to give an independent overview.

But it is thought that Frenchman Philip Troussier, who has guided three different teams to World Cup finals including hosts and eventual quarter-finalists Japan last year impressed Hamilton most.

However Kerr's appointment will restore some much needed credibility for the embattled FAI and the committee was conscious of the need to win favour back after a disastrous 2002.

One member of the three man committee wanted former Bryan Robson to replace McCarthy because he offered cast iron guarantees that Roy Keane would return.

Keane is a great admirer of Robson and was excited at the prospect of his midfield idol getting the job.

But now the former captain's future under Kerr is shrouded in some doubt and the great persuader, a trait the new man is renowned for, will have to launch his biggest ever charm offensive to coax Keane back.

FAI sources admitted yesterday that Kerr's imminent appointment could force a 'problem' on the Keane front.

Hamilton had already been informed of this during his meeting with United boss Sir Alex Ferguson.

The 49 year-old Walkinstown native's elevation holds appeal because he's the 'local boy made good.'

Inevitably there will be criticisms levelled at him that he doesn't have an established playing pedigree.

He played junior soccer with Rialto, College of Technology and Bluebell United with whom he won an Intermediate Cup medal in 1982, but never went beyond that level.

His lack of Premiership experience could also count against him in the long run.

The last two Irish managers, Jack Charlton and Mick McCarthy, were the most successful in Irish history and were both based in England.

But Kerr has always had an adaptability and flexibility and stepping up to international level is a challenge he will relish.

As Irish youth coach he crossed the Irish Sea regularly to check on the form of his players and managed to convince Andy O'Brien, then with Bradford, that his international future was a in a green shirt. …