ROY KEANE ADMITS he would have been crazy to turn down an international comeback as Martin O’Neill’s assistant.
O’Neill joked that he would be “the bad cop” and Keane “the bad, bad cop” in Ireland’s new management double act.
But Keane warned: “You obviously don’t know Martin as well as you think you do. He makes me look like Mother Teresa. It should be interesting.”
Keane quickly accepted once O’Neill approached him to be his number two — and once it became clear that his stormy history with the FAI could be left in the past.
“I’m happy to work under certain managers but it would have to be a manager of Martin’s calibre,” he said during his first press briefing this afternoon.
I’ve got massive respect for Martin. We’re certainly not buddies but hopefully we’ll work well together.
“Even when I’ve been out of the game the last few years, I’ve looked at managers and thought which kind of managers could I work under. You’ve got to get the right chemistry.”
The early days of O’Neill’s appointment have been dominated by questions about Keane but the former Sunderland and Ipswich boss says there’s no fear of him overshadowing his new manager.
“It goes to show how strong Martin is, the fact that he’s brought me on board.
“Unfortunately some people might see me as a threat or some sort of troublemaker of some sort but hopefully Martin’s seen something in me and I think I’ve a lot to offer.
“Despite the criticism I’ve had as a manager, I think I’ve done ok. Obviously I would have like to have done better. That’s a compliment in itself that Martin thinks I can help him.”
He added: “It’s not as though I’ve closed the door on any other opportunities to get back into management in terms of England and being a manager but you can’t look too far ahead. This was the opportunity right in front of me.
I know people think I’m a little bit crazy but I would have been crazy to turn the opportunity down. There wasn’t one bone in my body that thought this is not for me.”
A lot has been made of the common ground which O’Neill and Keane share. Both played under Brian Clough at Nottingham Forest though at different times, both managed Sunderland and most recently, both worked as pundits on ITV.
“We’ve had similar enough career paths, and the people we’ve worked with and the clubs we’ve been involved with.
“Martin has said from day one that he’ll respect my opinions. I have a lot of my own ideas and I’ll throw it into the mix. Hopefully then I’ll step back and let him make the decision. That’s his job.
“There is a lot in common, absolutely. In our short spell in the TV work when we’ve travelled abroad, it’s been nice. But there’s that understanding now that the mentality has to change now that it’s about getting results.
It’s no use when you’re travelling and sitting in a TV studio. You know, that’s quite easy.
It’ll be different when we’re in a dressing room and things have got to be said. No doubt there’ll be mistakes, knowing when to step in, when to say nothing. That’s all part of the journey ahead.
In his first press conference O’Neill insisted that he has recruited Keane to be his own man, but said that there might be a need for one or two tweaks.
“There’s nothing to tame,” Keane said on his often volatile personality. “I’m not an animal, you know what I mean. I’m a football man.
I work hard, push people, and sometimes I suppose there’s one or two times I have got that wrong over the years.
“Looking back I think there’s areas I need to look at but I’m also there to push the players and make demands of them. We’ve got some good players, and as I said sometimes they’re the last to realise how good they are. So we’ve got to push them, make demands of them.
“From my own experience I used to like people pushing me. It’s the name of the game. My manager when I was at Rockmount — come on, you can do better, keep doing that — I loved it.
“But obviously there’s a way of speaking to people, I understand all that — how you put it across and how you put the demands on them.
“You have to treat people with respect and as I said hopefully the players from the last few days will appreciate that.
“But as I said, I need to step back and let Martin run the show. I’m just there to help.”