Mick McCarthy has refused to countenance the idea that he may stay on beyond the current Euro 2020 campaign as Republic of Ireland manager, branding a query on the issue as disrespectful to Stephen Kenny.
The decision to install McCarthy for just the one campaign, and for Kenny to be established as his successor-in-waiting with an interim brief over the U21s, has drawn considerable comment since announced by the FAI.
Both men have enjoyed successes in their new roles with McCarthy taking the senior side to the top of Group D with ten points from the first four games and Kenny about to take on Brazil in the semi-final of the Toulon Tournament.
McCarthy and Kenny have both been quizzed on the unusual arrangement before but the older man was in no mood to give oxygen to any renewed debate as he reflected on Monday night’s 2-0 win over Gibraltar in Dublin.
“I haven’t given it any thought,” he said at the UL Sports Arena where he was helping to launch the Kennedy Cup and the Uefa Euro 2020 National Football Exhibition which opens there on Thursday.
“I’ve got four more games to try and qualify for Euro 2020 and I’m hoping that that’s going to be the case.
But if we get there and we do well and if that’s my last of it, I would be delighted, I’m cool. That’s my agreement at the moment, yeah.
Much has changed in the FAI since his and Kenny’s contracts were penned, not least the identities of those at the top of the admin chain in Abbotstown, but McCarthy was firm when asked if he might be tempted to ask for a chat.
“No, I’m not looking to do that. That’s completely unfair. Stephen’s been doing great with the U21s.
“They are playing Brazil in the semi-final tomorrow and to be asking me that question when there’s an agreement in place that it’s going to happen, that’s not really completely nice, I don’t think.”
It’s been a long three weeks or so for McCarthy who has been made available to the media a number of times and his patience was visibly tested by some of the questions directed his way after the Gibraltar win.
There were similar signs of exasperation and annoyance bubbling underneath the surface as he wrapped up his immediate press duties before the summer break when talk turned to Matt Doherty’s non-playing role of late.
A starter on the right side of midfield in the group opener away to Gibraltar, the Wolves man has since been relegated to bench duties and he failed to appear again on Monday against the outmatched visitors.
Callum Robinson got the nod on the right side of a midfield five, where he dovetailed well with Seamus Coleman, and McCarthy wasn’t happy when it was put to him that Doherty seemed to have been made the fall guy for the poor team effort on the Rock back in March.
“That really is a ridiculous assessment of it, I’m sorry to say. In my opinion Seamus is the best right back.
“I think Matt is a fabulous right back but unfortunately for him, I think Seamus is a better one.
“At this moment in time why would I leave Seamus out? But it’s always about someone who doesn’t play.
And the other thing about Seamus is, he’s a fabulous personality and the captain of the team. It’s just difficult, you know.
That McCarthy is flummoxed by what he sees as a fixation on Doherty was obvious.
Who, he asked, was the best player on the pitch earlier this week? The collective response was in agreement: Robinson.
“Why not talk about him instead of putting Matt Doherty in that position? Callum Robinson is an attacker.
“Matt isn’t an attacker, he’s a right wing-back and he is a brilliant right wing-back for Wolves but unfortunately sometimes, the manager just thinks that there is somebody who is better in that position.
“I can’t say anything other than that or give you any other reasons. I really love Matt Doherty. I signed him at Wolves, he’s had a great career.
“But, my preference is… you know sometimes I’m telling players that and it’s hard…’you’re not playing today.’ ‘Why not?’ ‘Do you know what? It’s my preference.’
“That’s what it is and the manager has to have it.”
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