Systems and selections, character and qualifications, just two games into Stephen Kenny's tenure and there has, already, been a lot of talk about this new Ireland manager. 

The former Dundalk manager finally got his chance to take over and work with the Ireland team last Monday, and three days later, he sent a side out to take on Bulgaria with one day’s preparation taken up by travel. 

Martin O’Neill’s first competitive game proved a snatch and grab situation amidst a poor performance in Georgia, while Mick McCarthy’s was even worse, as his side huffed and puffed their way to a 1-0 win away in Gibraltar. 

The Irish public have had two years to get used to the idea of Kenny taking over the Ireland job, and it beggars belief that anyone could start slinging mud following one solitary week in the job. If you were in any way surprised with the way that the new man was planning to set up his team or would ask his side to play, then you just have not been paying attention. 

In Kenny’s first match, the team were undone by a lapse of concentration and a slick move and finish, before fighting back for a deserved equaliser, while in the second, against a much better, and settled side, they showed signs of encouragement before eventually going down to another well-worked goal. 

The two games will get marked down in the competitive column, yet they were never anything more than training games, with the sole purpose of allowing the manager to put a plan in place for next month’s Euro 2020 play-off encounter in Slovakia. 

The lack of dissenting voices - from within the squad at least – will have encourged the manager that he is setting the right course for this new-look Ireland side. 

And if there were any grumbles from the players on show, it was mainly about their own performances, their lack of first team action, and their general fitness. 

In fact, the players really appear to be buying into what the manager is attempting to do, having possibly played with an element of fear in a green jersey over previous regimes. 

Harry Arter, for one, is a player who came through a similar footballing revolution under Eddie Howe at Bournemouth as they progressed all the way through the divisions to the Premier League, and the midfielder was full of praise for the manager’s style of play following the Finland game. 

Kenny faced the media following the game on Sunday evening at the end of what must have been the most emotionally exhausting week of his career, and while the disappointment of the results were evident, it was clear that he was also encouraged by how the week transpired. 

"The dilemma now is how much football they get at their clubs over the next few weeks," said Kenny, as his squad prepare for a return to club competition this week across the top two divisions in England. 

Such a simple statement, but one that shows that the manager is very aware of the perenially frustrating logistics of international football. 

Kenny’s system appears to be in place ahead of the play-off, but the personnel to fill the eleven spaces on the team sheet lies at the mercy of English club football over the coming four weeks. 

Every player who wore the green over the Bulgaria and Finland games were effectively in pre-season mode, and the manager will be sure that the team to line out in Slovakia will, at least, have competitive miles in the legs and lungs going into the game. 

And it deems those two team selections virtually redundant until the play-off squad can be scrutinised as to who has played sufficient football to be thrown into a Euro play-off.

Kenny did, of course, bring assumptions with him into the job and when it comes to reflecting on the two performances, the one area that he felt was already in place, is perhaps the one that has left the most soul searching ahead of the October game. 

The manager lauded his defensive options, comparing them to any in Europe with the likes of Enda Stevens, Shane Duffy, John Egan, Matt Doherty and Seamus Coleman to call on, yet following the first 90 minutes in Bulgaria, he saw real cause for concern. 

Ninety more minutes at the Aviva on Sunday in the defeat to Finland, and Kenny may be even less convinced that the quartet in question is the right one to send out come play-off time. 

In fact, Kenny may even need to take a look at his preferred system to keep his side competitive away in Slovakia, and ensure that the team is, first and foremost, defensively strong. 

Cohesion was a word that Kenny put great emphasis on, yet the defensive unit struggled in Sofia on that front and equally against Finland. 

Matt Doherty and Enda Stevens have made their names as two of the Premier League’s best wing-backs in recent seasons, yet their role as full-back in a flat four fails to get the best out of their attacking attributes. 

Shane Duffy and John Egan are building a partnership in the heart of the defence, although there are no established players in that department to challenge the pair from within the squad, with Darragh Lenihan and Dara O’Shea both very inexperienced in international football. 

The strongest voice from within the defensive unit that bounced around the echo-chamber of an empty Aviva Stadium on Sunday was that of goalkeeper Darren Randolph. 

And while the Ireland shot-stopper once again earned his corn between the sticks, restricting Finland to the solitary strike, it does not instill confidence that he is the one left barking orders when it should be coming from within the unit in front. 

Another thing that the manager said after the match was that he was "not wedded to one particular system as a manager". 

Kenny came into this international camp believing that 4-3-3 was the one best suited to take to the play-off in Slovakia, however, in his attempt to ensure that there is cohesion in his side, he may need to roll the dice with a three-man defence and call for a captain's voice of authority to steady the ship, in the name of Seamus Coleman.