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Praise Heaped Upon Ireland's 'Priceless' Assistant Coach

Praise Heaped Upon Ireland's 'Priceless' Assistant Coach
By Colman Stanley

The talk around the Irish senior men’s management team is nearly exclusively focussed on Stephen Kenny, but one of his assistant’s is beginning to make his name more familiar amongst the general public.

Anthony Barry was brought into the Irish setup by Kenny to replace Damien Duff. It is a part-time role for Barry, with his main gig being a head coach with Chelsea.

From Cardiff to Ipswich, Barry's name is now regularly being linked to managerial vacancies in the Championship. While it seems inevitable that Barry will someday manage a club at an elite level, it seems Ireland are spoiled to have his services at present.

Perhaps the most striking evidence of Barry’s ability is the fact that he was not moved at Chelsea when Thomas Tuchel took the reins at the clubs.

Tuchel did not know much about Anthony Barry when he arrived but was quickly impressed by his coaching chops, on top of the praise senior player Thiago Silva had given him.

Simon Johnson and Dominic Fifield of the Athletic have published a piece detailing Barry’s rise and his fine reputation among his peers.

After a respectable career as a player in League One and Two, Barry retired aged 31. He then joined Wigan Athletic as an assistant to Paul Cook. Chris Brass, former head of football operations at Wigan outlines the promise the young coach displayed.

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“The biggest thing I noticed about Anthony was the work ethic.  The transition from a player to a coach can be difficult. Instead of having lots of free time, you now have to work a lot of hours. But I’d rock up at 6am and he’d already be there. Then he’d ask to come with me to a night game, so he’d be getting home at midnight. He was a sponge. I thought there’s someone special here who is prepared to work hard.

“He perhaps finished playing too soon. It was a brave decision because the financial rewards are not there early doors. But he identified if he gets it right, this will work in the long run.

“We took his UEFA Pro Licence and an LMA course alongside each other. It’s challenging doing one of those while working at a club, but he was doing both.”

Anthony Barry is also a set-piece specialist. As part of his Pro License course he wrote a dissertation on throw-ins that was published as academic paper, and he also takes charge of Chelsea’s set-piece.

Chelsea keeper Marcus Bettinelli explains the detail and quality of Barry’s 'priceless' work.

“He will split sessions so one day we’ll be concentrating on defending set pieces, another will be on attacking set pieces. It all depends on the opposition. There will be teams who do different set-ups and are vulnerable in certain areas. Anthony’s expertise is looking at that with the analysis guys and seeing where we can find an edge.

“We have scored from set pieces this season because of Anthony’s ideas. The manager acknowledges that. It’s crucial because that set piece could win us the game and that’s down to him.

From an Irish perspective, if Kenny’s contract is not renewed, we don’t just lose our manager but we risk losing the nous of one of the brightest up and coming coaches in world football.

See Also: Rafael Benitez Aims Subtle Dig At Lucas Digne After Arsenal Dropping

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