New Republic of Ireland manager Martin O’Neill has dismissed fears that his decision to appoint Roy Keane as his assistant has the potential to backfire.
Keane’s reputation for being a combustible character has led some observers to suggest that O’Neill has taken a gamble by adding the ex-Manchester United captain to his backroom staff, but the former Northern Ireland international is confident he will enjoy a solid working relationship with his new No. 2.
"Someone asked me the other day 'why Roy?'. I have asked myself that question a number of times," O'Neill said, before quickly adding, "I was only joking with that comment by the way."
"I don’t intend to change Roy too much and a little bit of volatility would not do anyone any harm. I have no reservations on bringing him in at all. I think he will be brilliant for the Republic of Ireland. I want him to be the way he is. He is very excited by it and he wants to do well. That’s good enough for me. All told, I think it will be great.
"Great for me and the Republic of Ireland.”
O’Neill went on to clarify Keane’s role in the new Ireland set-up and jokingly suggested the figure who many believe will struggle to be cast in the assistants role has already suggested he will assume the senior position in the partnership.
"I mentioned the possibility to Roy of him working with me here and it took him about four-and-a-half seconds to agree," O’Neill said. "I discussed the roles we would have and he told me that he would reverse the roles in about ten minutes!
"I have worked with an assistant manager in John Robertson for many years and I value his opinion greatly, his character greatly and I hope to have a similar relationship with Roy now. We intend to go to as many games as possible, see as many players as possible and we will have the time to do that.
"I’m absolutely delighted he is on board. He is an iconic player, a great, great player. One of the best players to play in the Premier League since it’s inception.
"Then he went into management. I see Sir Alex Ferguson’s points that perhaps Roy went into management too soon and I don’t know about that.
"All I do know is that [from] working with him on television I have found him very engaging. His thirst for knowledge is amazing, he loves football. Like all of us in the game, he has points to prove."
O’Neill and Keane will take charge of their first game as the Republic of Ireland’s new management team when Latvia visit Dublin’s Aviva Stadium next Friday.