Irish football has been given a much needed face-lift with the appointment of Roy Keane and Martin O’Neill, as the new Irish management ‘dream team’. International football in Ireland has been quite stale over the last few years and despite relative success under Trapattoni, the majority of Irish fans refused to accept his methods. Trap set us up not to lose and in fairness we rarely did. It was not until the European Championships that it all fell apart. Inevitably Trapattoni was sacked and I couldn’t have been happier when I heard the news that O’Neill and Keane were taking over.
Everyone knows the kind of man that Roy Keane is. He is stubborn and aggressive even when he is at his best. But I believe he has all the characteristics of what could make a great number two. Martin O’Neill is a strong character himself, and will not be intimidated by Keane as many in this situation would. If anything, O’Neill choosing Keane as his assistant shows the metal of the man. He wants a number two who will push him and make him think about every decision he makes. Too many managers have backroom staff who are simply “yes men” who are afraid to voice their opinions. I think it goes without saying, Keane is as far from a “yes man” as you could get.
Both Keane and O’Neill are big personalities and each have strong opinions. It won’t be smooth sailing for the pair and undoubtedly there will be bust-ups. This is the biggest coo for sports journalism in this country in years. Keane and O’Neill will provide journalists with story after story. It really is a box-office appointment and if it all ends in tears, I wouldn’t be surprised.
Having said that, I think that this will actually work. The fact that Keane will not be working with players on a day to day basis means that there is less of a chance of player fall-outs. It’s also worth noting that as a club manager, Keane signed a lot of Irish players. This may suggest that he feels more comfortable managing and getting the best out of Irish players which can’t be anything other than positive.
Will Keane and O’Neill change the squad drastically? No they won’t. They can’t. There isn’t really that many players to choose from and although Trap was criticised for not picking certain individuals, he did get the best out of a poor bunch. Beyond McCarthy, Coleman, Clarke, Brady and Long the future prospects don’t seem up to very much. I just hope that O’Neill and Keane can get more out of them than Trap did. It’s safe to say that the new management team won’t be as reluctant to change as the old one was. Blooding new talent was a rarity under Trap. With Keane and O’Neill coming in, I can see the end of Sammon, Green, McShane and maybe one or two others. Style of play won’t differ too much. It will still be 4-4-2 albeit a little more attacking.
Despite any apprehensions I have, I still feel optimistic. Who knows, this might just be crazy enough to work. All eyes will be on the game against Latvia on the 15th of November. We might even see a full Aviva stadium for a change.