James McClean reopens criticism of former Republic of Ireland boss Stephen Kenny

Photo shows former Republic of Ireland manager Stephen Kenny and James McClean
-Credit: (Image: INPHO/Ryan Byrne)

James McClean has once again criticised his former Derry City and Republic of Ireland manager Stephen Kenny. Speaking on RTE ahead of Ireland's friendly against Portugal, McClean expressed his dissatisfaction with how his final involvement in an Ireland jersey played out.

He previously stated that he was left with a "sour taste" and felt that Kenny wasn't supportive of his decision to move to Welsh side Wrexham, then in League Two.

McClean was dropped for the October window and only returned for one more game, the 1-1 friendly draw with New Zealand. During RTE's coverage of the Portugal friendly on Tuesday night, he suggested that Ireland might have qualified for the delayed Euro 2020 finals under Mick McCarthy's leadership.

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He pointed out how McCarthy led Ireland to the play-offs, whereas under Kenny, the Boys in Green lost on penalties to Slovakia.

"It's a trait that has served us well," he said, referring to the 'nastiness' that he believes Ireland lost under Kenny.

"We qualified for two tournaments, Euro 2012 and '16, and we got to a play-off under Mick McCarthy. If Mick had been in charge, we potentially may have got to three-in-a-row in that style of play."

However, the play-off spot wasn't secured under McCarthy. Despite their poor 2018-19 Nations League campaign under Martin O'Neill, Ireland were given a potential back door to Euro 2020.

The Boys in Green drew two and lost two games in a group with Wales and Denmark, with the low point being a 4-1 defeat in Cardiff, reports the Irish Mirror.

As the League B performers outshone them, this saw their involvement in the playoffs, which were delayed till October 2020 due to the Coronavirus pandemic. At this juncture, Kenny had succeeded McCarthy at the helm.

During his reign, Ireland finished third in the Euro 2020 qualifiers with only trio victories from eight matches under the two-time national manager.

McClean added: "I think nowadays you can get sucked into the whole total football and statistics. Yeah, we had 59 percent possession, but a lot of it was across the backline and we lost the game.

"We've always been hard to beat and I think in the last three years we've gone away from that. We've built our foundations on (being) hard to beat and having a bit of nastiness about us, because you are always going to get opportunities in a game and then we take the opportunities."

"With recent comments made and reflecting upon the past three games we've delivered, we've become difficult opponents again and that's the base of our performance."

Meanwhile, McClean expressed consideration towards an international comeback.

"First and foremost the call has to come," he emphasises. "It's easy sitting here now and saying, no I'm done or I would love to come out. But until that call comes where you are being asked to come up and represent your country again, if that call comes then I'll have a better answer in my mind, because I've been going back and forth.

"But until that call comes, I'll know then and there."

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