Before a ball has been kicked, it has been somewhat of a typical week surrounding the Ireland camp ahead of their European Championship Group D qualifying opener against Gibraltar this weekend.
Just like much of the final year of Martin O'Neill's reign in charge, off-field controversies have seemed to grab most of the headlines as the Ireland squad get together. With Mick McCarthy returning to the helm this week, at least there is a sense of optimism that performances and results on the pitch might begin to take an upward turn.
That is certainly the expectation of former Ireland manager Brian Kerr, who was speaking on Virgin Media Sport ahead of the Group C clash between Northern Ireland and Estonia. Kerr recalls sharing the studio with Mick McCarthy near the end of the Martin O'Neill era, and the collective sense of shock at just how poor the team had become.
"The last time Ireland played, Mick was sitting in this studio. He was looking at the analysis after and I'm sure he was shocked as many of us were at how poorly set-up the team were."
Brian Kerr on Ireland's form in 2018 and the impact Mick McCarthy will make.#Euro2020 pic.twitter.com/cnH7o7GQhL
— Virgin Media Sport (@VMSportIE) March 21, 2019
With such a low base to start from, Kerr is confident that the clarity that McCarthy will bring to the squad will get the team back to creating chances and scoring goals, something that was so painfully lacking at times over the last couple of years.
Its been a disastrous two years. Results wise, performances wise. You take the four most recent games, we didn't score a goal, we hardly had a shot. Northern Ireland dominated us in Dublin without us having a decent attack in the match.
We played Denmark, we didn't have a shot on goal either. It's been really really poor. The last ten games we had one win, USA in a friendly...
So I think it will be easy to improve on that. A new manager comes in, there's always a bit of a buzz. We've seen the statements from some of the players, how they're saying things are a lot nicer and everyone's in a better mood around the camp.
You always get that when a new manager comes in anyway, but Mick has his way about him. The players will see it as a fresh start. I think from the off what we will get will be clarity here.
Last time Ireland played Mick was sitting here in this studio and he was looking at the analysis bits after and I'm sure he was as shocked as many of us were at how poorly set up the team were and how there was such a lack of clarity in how the team was supposed to be playing. I think what we'll get now will be 4-4-1-1 and everyone knowing their job.
Kevin Kilbane was quick to add his backing to Kerr's view that we can expect to see improvements now that Mick McCarthy is back in charge.
I think Mick will come in and create a positive environment that Brian spoke about there, and I do think we'll see a side that is back creating chances. We've not created chances for such a long time, particularly in Dublin.
That's been the disappointing thing. Watching that side in Dublin over the last couple of years, and sides coming in dominating us. Every side has come into Dublin and dominated us.
Some chances, shots on goal, maybe a few sequences of passing and movement, rounded off with a few goals. It's not too much to ask for really is it? Ireland fans have been waiting for what feels like an eternity to see the team play some decent football, so why not bask in the glow of optimism and hope that Kerr and Kilbane are proved right.