Holland backs new man Kerr
TOWN skipper Matt Holland has backed the appointment of Brian Kerr as the next Republic of Ireland manager and has vowed to get behind the new boss.The Ipswich captain, who was a staunch supporter of former Ireland manager Mick McCarthy, has welcomed the move to promote Kerr from the Under-21 squad boss to take charge of the senior squad.
TOWN skipper Matt Holland has backed the appointment of Brian Kerr as the next Republic of Ireland manager and has vowed to get behind the new boss.
The Ipswich captain, who was a staunch supporter of former Ireland manager Mick McCarthy, has welcomed the move to promote Kerr from the Under-21 squad boss to take charge of the senior squad.
Holland, who admits he does not know Kerr well, said: "Brian has done a lot for the lower age-level teams. We have quite a young squad and many of them have worked with him before and really respect him.
"I have only met him at close quarters on our last trip when he was caretaker-manager and got on fine with him. He has a great reputation within the Irish game. Everyone should back him – I certainly will. He will be trying to get us back on track in the qualifications and I will certainly be behind him and help in anyway I can."
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Kerr is expected to be officially unveiled as McCarthy's successor tomorrow and is unlikely to bring back Manchester United's Roy Keane, who left the Ireland team after a row with McCarthy at last year's World Cup Finals.
Ireland are ranked 14th in the world but after a relatively successful World Cup they are struggling to qualify for Euro 2004.
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Kerr, a Dubliner, is known to have been unimpressed with Keane's antics which led him to be kicked out of the World Cup and sent home in disgrace.
Kerr was last night in Abu Dhabi where the Irish Under-20s are playing in an international tournament. He has already taken them to third place in the World Under-20 Championship in Malaysia in 1999. He has won the European Under-16s championship in Scotland and the Under-18s in Cyprus. Robbie Keane, Graham Barrett, John O'Shea, Damien Duff and Steven Carr are among his protégés.
At club level in Ireland, Kerr managed Shamrock Rovers' B team and then St Patrick's Athletic. He was a keen boxer as a youngster and his father, Frank Kerr, was an Irish fly-weight boxing champion.
A teetotaller who, at one time, gave up sport altogether to work as a technician in the botany department of University College, Dublin, Kerr will be paid around £230,000 per year.
He saw off the challenges of Bryan Robson and Kevin Moran, who made the final short-list after former Ipswich player and coach Bryan Hamilton compiled a number of candidates.
Holland, who scored in the World Cup Finals in Japan against Cameroon, was an important member of the Irish side during the tournament. He has won 27 caps and scored four goals.