Can Martin O’Neill and Roy Keane work?

Updated: November 4, 2013

There are two words being used to describe the new management that is being lined up to lead the Republic of Ireland into Euro 2016   “BOX OFFICE”.

When news broke on Saturday that Martin O’Neill had agreed a deal in principle to take over as the new Irish manager, with legend that is Roy Keane as his assistant, the whole country was left excited.

Both are big names in football. Both are Irish. Both are passionate men. It’s probably the best one/two partnership Ireland could have wished for.

O’Neill has been the favourite ever since Trapattoni departed the role in September with Keane right up there too to be the manager in his own right. It appears now that Ireland got both.

Those that had doubts about O’Neill getting the role will now be appeased to see Keane by his side while the Keane lovers out there will be glad to see the fire and passion on the Irish side-lines.

With O’Neill some 13 years younger that Trap, this is not a short term solution by the FAI although the most interesting thing about the appointment is the potential succession planning.

With Keane working alongside O’Neill, there is scope for the combative midfielder to develop and learn the managerial aspect of the game.

Keane, who championed his potential new boss for the role back in September, may not have worked out as a manager but he could prove to be a very useful number two. The former midfielder has the footballing knowledge and the coaching ability. He got his UEFA pro-license back in 2008 and he insights as a pundit show that he will offer something on the training ground.

Keane has history with the FAI, as a player and a manager, it’s been well documented and this excellent piece on BP Football sums it up nicely.

But with the focus on working with the players and not having to deal with the FAI, press conferences and other managerial aspects of the game, Keane will be left to develop and learn from O’Neill while at the same time share his experience with the players.

Keane will have little or no dealings with the FAI. Any interaction with the FAI Chief executive John Delaney will be done by done by O’Neill.

The players will welcome the appointment too.

Robbie Keane recently revealed that Ireland needed a manager with balls specifically naming O’Neill and Keane, along with Mick McCarthy as the men he would like to take over from Giovanni Trapattoni.

With an O’Neill/Keane combo Ireland and its skipper would be getting balls in abundance.

The younger players in the squad will be working with a player they grew up revering and under a manager that is respected in the game.

Unlike the failed Steve Staunton and Bobby Robson, this has the potential to work. On that occasion Ireland appointed the then novice Staunton as manager with Robson as technical director. The aim being that the inexperienced manager would be guided where needed. One a number of reasons, not all football related, it didn’t work out.

However by naming O’Neill as boss the FAI are putting the experience man in charge right from the oft. Keane has the no nonsense, winner takes all approach while O’Neill is the deep analytical thinker.

It might just work.

Please leave your thoughts below.

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