IRISH CRISIS: Ex-Sunderland chairman Quinn calls for elite academy

Former Sunderland and Arsenal striker Niall Quinn says Irish football needs an established academy. Quinn fears the talent pool is getting smaller and smaller for the Republic of Ireland.

Former Sunderland and Arsenal striker Niall Quinn says Irish football needs an established academy.

Quinn fears the talent pool is getting smaller and smaller for the Republic of Ireland.

"Money has to go into an elite academy. There needs to be a six-year programme put in place to get Ireland back up to the levels of 20 years ago, to when we could and did compete. At the moment, there’s a reliance on getting into the top Premier League clubs, but it’s just not happening. You think back to the great Irish players at Manchester United - Roy Keane, Paul McGrath - and at Liverpool.

"More recently, Damien Duff has been at Chelsea, Steve Finnan at Liverpool, Robbie Keane at Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur, but now those clubs, by and large, aren’t even taking young Irish players.

"The pool is so much smaller, so we have to deliver change ourselves. We have to make sure our players are better equipped and in better shape if and when they move to England.

"When Trapattoni started, he had Shay Given, Robbie, Damien, Richard Dunne and John O’Shea, players of real quality, and all of them at the peak of their careers. The next manager won’t and in some ways will be snookered before the off. If anybody thinks our problems will be solved simply by the appointment of a new man, then they need their heads examined.

"The reality is that we should expect a long time in the wilderness if we don’t realise that we have to prepare young players better for top-flight clubs, players who can hold their own in England. There needs to be a long-term plan and I would like to see the appointment of the next manager reflect that, to be someone who will buy into that and to be given time, without the threat of the sack."

 
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