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Richard Dunne Not Convinced That Kenny Has Improved Ireland's Style Of Play

Richard Dunne Not Convinced That Kenny Has Improved Ireland's Style Of Play
By Gary Connaughton

For those in the Aviva Stadium on Thursday night, they couldn't have helped but come away impressed with what they saw from Ireland.

Stephen Kenny's side produced some brilliant football against Portugal, playing with a real sense of purpose and urgency. It was certainly a nice change to the style of play we have often seen from Irish teams at this level down through the years.

It has been a slow evolution at times under Kenny. The team often lacked penetration early in his tenure, stroking the ball around nicely but lacking the ability to break down the opposition.

In recent months there has been an added dimension of verticality to their passing, not being afraid to move the ball forward at speed and linking the play. That is something that comes with more time on the training pitch and players becoming familiar with the system, with the the result being an often exciting brand of football.

However, not all feel there has been a real change in style in comparison to previous eras.

Speaking on Virgin Media last night, Richard Dunne said he believed Ireland's recent improvements have been down to reverting to a more familiar long ball game, moving away from the short passing style that Kenny had used when he first took over.

There needs to be a balance on where we've come from. Back in March we were at rock bottom, the initial spike in performance from a new manager didn't happen for Ireland and we went straight downhill.

We have recovered now and we're back in a position where we're probably at a similar level to when he took over. Obviously it's a different style of play and new players coming in, that's where the progression is...

To me there has been a change in style of play (in the middle of the Kenny era). To me, the way he set out to play and his ideas on how he was going to change Irish football to become more of a Man City style or something like that, Ireland can't play like that.

We don't have the players at the moment to play like that. We tried that at the start and we got found out...

I think if you look at it with rose tinted glasses then yeah (you could say Kenny has improved the style), but if you look back through the eras with Martin O'Neill, Mick McCarthy, Trapattoni, Ireland teams have always played football but we get tagged with a style of football.

We have always played when we got time to play, played in the right positions and been effective in games. This Irish team overplayed at times and caused their own problems.

Since the (first) Portugal game we have found our own system where we don't need 90 per cent possession. We can pass the ball, we can still be a nice football team to watch, but we're effective.

Last night was a very effective performance. We tried to build up at the times, but ultimately we went long. It wasn't perfect, we lacked a body in midfield to be a little bit more creative.

While it is true that long passes have been used more frequently in recent games, there is still a big difference between this Ireland teams and others in the past.

After all, picking out a pass at distance is not the same thing as lumping a hopeful ball up the pitch. That was all too often Ireland's only avenue of attack in the past.

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Dunne and fellow pundit Damien Delaney would show a package of some of Ireland's more direct play against Portugal, but the former Manchester City defender's characterisation of this approach as a return to the ways of old seem wide of the mark.

As has been the case since his appointment, it seems Stephen Kenny still has some way to go to show many onlookers what he is trying to achieve with this team.

SEE ALSO: Eamon Dunphy Rallies Against Liam Brady's Opinion On Kenny Contract

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