13 Reasons Why We Absolutely Love Brian Kerr

There are those out there who will tell you they don’t like him, that he’s overrated as a manager and even worse as a commentator. Thankfully they are few and far between. Brian Kerr is indeed one of Irish football’s most beloved figures. But why exactly do we love the former Ireland manager so much?

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He was only a teenager when he started his managerial career.

At 13 years of age, Brian Kerr got his long career in football management started with the Crumlin United U-11’s side.

He won his first trophy less than a month after getting his first senior managerial role.

brian kerr
[via independent.ie]
Appointed St. Patrick’s Athletic manager in December 1986, Kerr guided them to Leinster Senior Cup glory just three week later, the club’s first trophy in a decade.

He remortgaged his house to help save St. Patrick’s Athletic.

When the Inchicore club were on their knees financially in the nineties, a number of investors raised £82,000 to save the club from going bust. It’s believed that some of them, including Kerr himself, remortgaged their homes to do so. Despite the turmoil surrounding the club, he was able to win two league titles in 1990 and 1994 as manager.

He’s the only manager to have won major trophies with Ireland.

A bronze medal at the 1997 World Youth Championships was followed up with victory at the U16 and U18 European Championships the very next year.

He used to breed rats.

“I was part of a very important scientific experiment where we used to breed rats; they were huge, huge rats. They were on feeding trials in my days as a lab technician with the Department of Agriculture in UCD.

Occasionally there would have been escapee rats running around the floor, who escaped out of the cages. So I got quite handy at capturing white rats on the floor. Overall I thought it was good training for managing in the League of Ireland!”

He is one of the Faroe Islands’ most successful managers of all time.

Kerr’s record of two wins and a draw in 16 competitive games ensures his name will be forever etched into Faroese folklore.

His commentary is often the best thing about RTE’s football coverage.

brian kerr

His description of Shaqiri is just brilliant.

Or as Brian likes to call him, ‘The Powercube’.

But he’s not afraid to change his mind either.

His nicknames are on the money too.

Harry Maguire won’t forgive him any time soon though.

This conversation with Apres Match.

His analysis is always spot on.

“Biff, bang, wollop.” Kerr’s take on the state of Irish football is just one such example of his excellent punditry.

Kerr is a Proper Football Man, but he loves cheering on the Irish team, no matter what code it is.

He’s so beloved he might even have a shot at higher office, you never know…

https://twitter.com/LallyDec/status/1025040614075916288

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Francesco Guidolin: The Dancing Italian at the Heart of Udinese’s Golden Years

The Italian manager was an unknown quantity on these shores before coming to the Premier League, but he brought a relatively small club in his home country to new heights, writes Conor Clancy.

When Swansea City appointed Francesco Guidolin as their manager in January 2016 many, including club captain Ashley Williams, had to Google the new man’s name, those familiar with the Italian’s past would have been confident that he could steer them to survival in the second half of the 2015-16 Premier League season.

Although the usual names were shocked and appalled by the appointment of a foreign coach with no Premier League experience, especially given the overlooking of the completely inexperienced Ryan Giggs for a role at a Welsh club, it was no surprise that he comfortably kept Swansea up.

Guidolin, see, is not just some old Italian man who likes cycling, rather he is one of the game’s thinkers with vast coaching acumen; someone who had previously guided Udinese to the preliminary rounds of the Champions League.

The Zebrette, a modest club from Italy’s north eastern region of Friuli, are a side who have rarely troubled Italian football’s traditionally bigger clubs atop the Serie A table. In the early nineties they were regularly up and down, swapping the first division for Serie B. Towards the end of the decade, they established themselves in the top flight and even managed a third place finish in 1997-98, a height that has since only been repeated once.

In 2004-05 they achieved their first and only qualification to the Champions League proper by claiming a fourth place finish in Serie A, eventually being drawn in a group with Barcelona, Werder Bremen and Panathinaikos. This opposition proved too difficult to negotiate, however, and they fell out of Europe’s elite competition as the group’s third best side.

Unfortunately for the people of Friuli, Udinese slipped into their old habits and fell back down the table. In 2009-10, the club avoided relegation by nine points, which prompted the return of Francesco Guidolin for a second stint in charge, having previously coached them between 1998-99.

His return looked troubled from the off, and his side struggled early on, waiting until the fifth round of fixtures to get their first point on the board with a 0-0 draw at Sampdoria, following successive defeats against Genoa, Inter, Juventus and Bologna. Round six handed them their first win and the side would not lose again until the eleventh set of fixtures, as they embarked on a record breaking season, during which they would achieve an unprecedented points total of 66.

With the season reaching its final game week, Udinese were set to welcome the already-crowned champions AC Milan to Friuli as they sought Champions League football. In the week leading up to the game, Guidolin had promised he would dance like Milan’s Kevin-Prince Boateng should they get their desired result. Rumours spread that the Rossoneri would simply roll over and make things easy for their hosts, but a crunching tackle early on from Mathieu Flamini on Gokhan Inler quickly dispelled that train of thought.

The usually high-scoring Zebrette piled on the pressure and, were it not for the heroics of Marco Amelia in the Milan goal, would have won the game easily. Antonio Di Natale, Alexis Sanchez and company grew increasingly irritated by Amelia’s exploits, and the tension was palpable with fans fearing late heartbreak.

The heartache never arrived, and Guidolin could dance freely on the Friuli pitch safe in the thought that he had achieved the improbable by guiding Udinese to the Champions League.

Having caught the eye of Europe’s elite, a few important members of that Udinese side would move on before ever playing in Europe. Sanchez joined Barcelona, Cristian Zapata moved to Villarreal and Gokhan Inler left for Napoli, with others wanting to finish what they started and staying put for another 12 months.

By the time the qualification round arrived, Udinese weren’t quite the same as three months prior. Arsenal were the opposition, and the Italians fell to a 1-0 first-leg defeat at the Emirates Stadium. Back in Italy, things started well as Antonio Di Natale headed them ahead in the second-leg. Robin van Persie then equalised before the hosts were awarded a penalty. Di Natale stepped up and, uncharacteristically, the diminutive striker saw his effort saved by Wojciech Szczesny. Theo Walcott went on to seal the win, which saw Guidolin fall at the final hurdle for the third time – narrowly missing out on the group stages of the Champions League much like he had with Bologna and Udinese previously.

He wouldn’t have to wait long for another chance, as against all odds, he went one better in Serie A the following season. Despite having a weaker side at his disposal, the Zebrette managed to finish third in 2011-12, equaling the club’s best performance from ’97-’98.

Guidolin’s story of close misses would continue, with the Bianconeri yet again falling out of the Champions League, this time at the end of a penalty shoot-out with Sporting Braga.

A fifth place finish followed in 2012-13, followed by 13th in 2013-14, prompting the decision for Guidolin to step down as coach and take a supervisory role under the Pozzo’s, working closely with Udinese, Granada and Watford.

During his time with Udinese, Guidolin had some exciting players to work with. While playing under him, few players failed to improve as he got the absolute very best out of those at his disposal, delivering some memorable moments to the people of Friuli that won’t be forgotten any time soon.

@conorclancy9

Main image by Adam Kelly.