Keane 'good cop' of Ireland bosses
Roy Keane insisted he does not need to be 'tamed' after accepting the role as Martin O’Neill’s assistant in the new Republic of Ireland coaching set-up.
• Palmer: O'Neill's Irish pride
Keane's first press conference in his new role caught the attention of the nation on Wednesday afternoon. Local television station TV3 rescheduled their programming to broadcast Keane’s full half-hour media appearance live, with the former Manchester United and Republic of Ireland captain showing why he still commands so much attention.
The former Sunderland and Ipswich boss was quick to reject the idea that O’Neill has taken a gamble by appointing Keane as his high-profile No. 2 as he looks forward to his first game as assistant boss against Latvia on Friday.
"I’m going to have to be the good cop compared to Martin," protested Keane, when asked whether he would have to rein in his notorious passion. "You don’t know Martin as well as I do. He makes me look like Mother Teresa.
"No seriously, there’s nothing for Martin to tame. I’m not some kind of an animal. I’m a footballing man. I like to work hard, push people. I have got that wrong on one or two occasions down the years, but in general I got that right.
"I am very demanding, I don’t settle for second best and I’m not going to make any excuses for that. It’s part of my make-up. The day I lose my passion for football is the day I stay well out of it. In any sport, if you don’t have passion, you are in big, big trouble, but don’t think I’m going to be the bad cop here.
"I make no excuse for pushing players. Having taken some training sessions we have good players here. You want to put demands on people, but there is a way of getting that message across and that’s all about dealing with people.
"The chance to work with Martin was a big attraction to this job and shows how strong he is that he got me on board here, as some people might see me as a trouble-maker of some sort. That couldn’t be further from the truth.
"I know people think I’m a little bit crazy, but I’ve have been crazy to turn this down. There wasn’t a bone in my body that said no to this."
Keane insisted his troubled past with the Football Association of Ireland is no barrier to his hopes of success with O’Neill, as he stressed the issues that forced him to walk out on the Ireland team days before the 2002 World Cup finals need to be forgotten.
"What has gone on in the past with me is irrelevant," he continued. "One of my strong points is that when I meet up with people who I have had disagreements with before, that I’m happy to move on.
"The FAI and myself wanted what is best for Irish football and the past is the past. I can’t really worry about the past as this is about the future, about the present day. This is about helping Martin and the team.
"Hopefully we have some good days ahead, but I’m not here to change anyone’s opinion about myself or decisions I made in the past. I spent years trying to keep people happy and trust me, it’s a waste of time and energy."
Keane went on spell out his vision for the role he can play in O’Neill’s set-up, as he conceded he needed to learn when to step back from vocalising his opinions now that he is a No.2.
"I need to learn my boundaries, when you step in and when to say nothing. It’s all part of the experience for me and that’s why I’m here," he stressed. "Martin is the manager, he makes the decisions and I’m just here to help in any way I can.
"When you are a manager or an assistant manager, you are always learning. To be an assistant, it gives me a chance to be hands on with players. Contrary to belief, I got on well with a lot of the players I have worked with and I’m looking forward to working closely with players and putting on training sessions."
Keane confirmed he was eager to try to persuade Stoke midfielder Stephen Ireland to reverse his decision to decline invites to play for his country, but he would not be drawn on the negative comments Sir Alex Ferguson made about him in his recently published autobiography.
"I won’t be defending myself regarding Alex Ferguson, that’s for another day," he added. "The beauty of football is everyone has opinions. The issue I have with anyone who talks about me is if they make up lies and that’s when I defend myself."