Prodigal son Keane set to team up with O’Neill

Martin O’Neill will become the new Republic of Ireland manager this week assisted by former captain Roy Keane.

Martin O’Neill will become the new Republic of Ireland manager this week assisted by former captain Roy Keane.

Country before club appointment for O’Neill

O’Neill has been out of work since being dismissed by Sunderland in late March, but the former Northern Ireland international and Celtic and Aston Villa manager is now poised to get his first taste of international football management.

Although Derry man O’Neill had been the early favourite to replace Trapattoni, along with ex-boss Mick McCarthy and his new assistant Roy Keane, he had remained very tight-lipped about his work intentions for almost sixty days until last weekend.

It is believed that O’Neill wanted time to think about the possibility of becoming an international coach, but after an interview with Crystal Palace in midweek, he held talks with Football Association of Ireland officials last Friday – November 1st,

Although the exact terms of a contract have yet to be disclosed, O’Neill has accepted the job and an announcement could be made early this week. And it appears that much of the early negotiations could have been focused on his preferred choice of assistant – fellow former Nottingham Forest player and Brian Clough protégé Roy Keane.

The FAI will be keen to appoint O’Neill and Keane before the Republic’s next home friendly with Latvia on Friday week November 15th and before the players meet up for a training camp on this Sunday – November 10th.

Back in the dug-out after almost twenty months out of management since he left Portman Road.

Back in the dug-out after almost twenty months out of management since he left Portman Road.

From football punditry to international management

Martin O’Neill and Roy Keane are currently working for ITN as football pundits and clearly have struck up a good rapport which they hope will work well in their new international management roles. Keane also replaces O’Neill’s long-time assistant – John Robertson, who is currently recovering from a heart attack.

And after the far from complimentary remarks about the former Ireland and Manchester United captain in the recent Sir Alex Ferguson autobiography, it looks like being a timely break for Keane who has held talks with the FAI about becoming O’Neill’s assistant.

The Cork man has been out of management since being dismissed by Ipswich Town in January 2011. Keane also has a frosty relationship with John Delaney and has publically criticised the FAI chief executive in the past but news of the double appointment has been generally welcomed by many of the leading figures in the games despite Keane’s infamous spat with former Republic of Ireland manager Mick McCarthy in Saipan ahead of the 2002 World Cup tournament.

And similar to that unforgettable ‘low’ for Irish football over eleven years ago, Keane’s appointment also proved quite divisive in some football circles but time is a great healer and the coming months should prove quite interesting if anything observing how two of the biggest legends in Irish football attempt to revive the Republic’s fortunes on the football field.

Interim manager Noel King had already begun a new era for Irish football by inviting back outcast Andy Reid to the international fold and more than likely Stephen Ireland will also be invited to ‘let bygones be bygones’ by donning the green shirt once again. FAI appointments have by tradition seldom been as expected since the Jack Charlton appointment in 1986.

But the real test in the coming months will determine whether or not the exciting Martin O’Neill and Roy Keane management partnership will prove to be the Dream Team or just an Odd Couple!