By Mark Chaplin
"I have always wanted my teams to be effective and to play well and to win. And I also like the idea that it would be pleasing on the eye." New Republic of Ireland manager Brian Kerr built a reputation for attractive football as well as success in his previous role as the country's youth teams manager.
Plenty of experience
Kerr, who never played at the highest level and has never coached abroad, may be a new name to some. However, after leading the Republic of Ireland to first place in the 1997 UEFA Under-16 and Under-18 Championships, as well as third place in the FIFA World Youth Cup in 1997, Kerr is certainly well known in UEFA.
And Kerr has always proved a willing interviewee for uefa.com, especially for the site's Training Ground section. Here, in extracts from an interview conducted by uefa.com chief writer Mark Chaplin prior to Kerr's appointment as Irish senior team boss, Kerr details his background, football philosophy and his then plans for the future.
"Starting out in international management in 1997 was a tremendous adventure because no one, least of all me, knew how it was going to be," he said. "I didn't know whether the philosophy or the style that I would have used as a coach in the league in Ireland would carry through at international level. I have always had my ideas about how I wanted my teams to play.
I have always wanted my teams to be effective and to play well and to win. And I also like the idea that it would be pleasing on the eye.
"I personally didn't enjoy the style of play of the Jack Charlton years. That was me because I probably came from a more purist background - of players like Liam Brady, Liam Tuohy, the Tottenham Hotspur [FC] teams of the 1950s and players like [Danny] Blanchflower, [Dave] Mackay and [Jimmy] Greaves.
"So I didn't find that style of play particularly attractive but I enjoyed the fact that we had a status in the world of football and respect to some degree. I think Mick McCarthy brought a style that people can say is admirable in all its forms: the way the team plays, the attitude.
Sense of pride
"Obviously, we are competing with countries with bigger resources and huge populations, nations with physical and practical advantages over us, but we have got to make the best use of what we have. That means a passing style that uses the advantages we have as a country. We have managed to retain a sense of pride about wearing the jersey of the country, irrespective of how money has changed the game."
These will be welcome words for Irish fans, hoping Kerr can revitalise the country's fortunes in qualifying for UEFA EURO 2004™. During the interview, Kerr revealed he was not motivated by "any great personal ambitions to manage particular clubs or teams, or at international level. My ambitions would be more for Irish football".
However, he added: "One [ambition] would be that our clubs improve to a respected standard in European competition and that the game in Ireland will continue to change towards a style that everybody will love and everybody will appreciate. If I can have any small influence on those things taking place I would settle for that." His new role will give him every chance of making that happen.
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