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Roy Keane has been Ireland assistant boss since November 2013.
Roy Keane has been Ireland assistant boss since November 2013.
Image: Niall Carson

'I don’t think Roy will be around after the end of the tournament'

One former teammate believes the ex-Manchester United man will find it hard to resist a return to club football.
May 12th 2016, 8:00 AM 19,270 12

ROY KEANE’S FUTURE has been the subject of much speculation of late and one former teammate believes he won’t be in his current role as Ireland assistant manager much longer.

Like Martin O’Neill, the Corkonian has yet to commit to extending his Ireland contract, which is due to run out after the Euros, and at least one bookmaker has suspended betting on the Man United legend becoming the next Celtic boss.

And former Ireland star Jason McAteer feels both individuals could move on from their current positions after the Euros.

“I don’t think Roy will be around after the end of the tournament,” McAteer says. “He will want to venture out into club football again and give it another go.”

mcateer 11th May 2016: SPAR FAI Primary School 5s Programme ambassador and former Republic of Ireland International Jason McAteer was at the AVIVA Stadium to watch the SPAR FAI Primary School 5s National Finals where 192 girls and boys from 24 schools battled it out for national honours. Source: Matt Browne/SPORTSFILE

Citing the day-to-day involvement of club football as an incentive to leave, McAteer also believes O’Neill’s days as Irish manager could be numbered.

“There are two things Martin will look at. Has he taken it as far as he can? That is only a question he can answer. We all have our own opinions, but really, it is a question of whether he can take it any further. His job description is getting them to a tournament and he has done that, so he has been a success, he can go out on a high.

The other one is if the right club became available — Everton are the name being thrown around at the minute. If Rafa (Benitez) goes from Newcastle, then that could be the club for Martin. So it is whether he feels if the right club is there, the right chairman. He could opt out. That is a big possibility that the two of them could go.”

Should O’Neill decide to step down, Chris Hughton and Mick McCarthy — the respective managers of Brighton and Ipswich currently — are two of the names that have been mentioned as potential replacements. Who does McAteer think would be the best man available for the role?

Why would Chris (Hughton) leave if they go up through the playoffs (into the Premier League)? Mick (McCarthy) is having a bit of a tough time at Ipswich. He has taken them as far as he can with the limitations he has got underneath him. If he came back, I think he would do a great job.

“International management — I always think — is where a strong man-manager is needed. It is not your Rafa Benitez who has plotted his way around games and is meticulous. Preparation, in a sense, is the deciding factor.

“At the end of the day, I know it is the greatest honour to play for your country, but you don’t have to come. If you get beat all the time, players may start to think about the hassle of travelling, about being away from their wife and family, and when, at club level, you get managers who put pressure on you not to come, sometimes it is easy to say: ‘Ah, I have got a slight knock.’ That does happen.”

Queens Park Rangers v Ipswich Town - Sky Bet Championship - Loftus Road McAteer believes Mick McCarthy would be an ideal candidate to replace Martin O'Neill as Ireland manager should the Derry native decide against extending his contract after the Euros. Source: EMPICS Sport

McAteer, of course, knows McCarthy’s credentials better than most, having played under him during the Barnsley native’s stint as Ireland manager between 1996 and 2002, as well as during his time in charge at Sunderland.

McCarthy generally kept faith with McAteer, consistently naming him in squads, even while out of favour and struggling for game time at club level.

He would always put an arm around me, pull me aside to talk to me, he’d call down to my room, or I’d go to his room,” McAteer recalls. “To say he counselled you is a bit much, but he’d obviously give you advice.”

At the time of McAteer’s famous goal against Holland, he was enduring a difficult period at Blackburn — not starting a game for five months after falling out with then-manager Graeme Souness. So did McCarthy give him any special advice on that occasion?

“He didn’t have to do anything. He just picked me. When you loved him for being that manager who put an arm around your shoulder, who told you that you were the best thing since sliced bread, all you wanted to do was give 110% for him.

That is what man-management skills do. That is what Jack (Charlton) had. Everyone wanted to play for him. You felt it was a personal slur if you got beaten playing for Jack. You felt like you were letting him down and you didn’t want to do that. Mick was a bit like that. You didn’t want to let him down. I think it is a massive thing — man-management. Alex Ferguson had it. You talk about Shankly, Jock Stein, Paisley — they all had it.”

And does Roy Keane — McAteer’s ex-teammate — have it? And also, would the ex-Liverpool star like to have played under him?

“Did I envisage Roy as a manager? Probably. I didn’t see him in the media, but he didn’t see himself in the media. He was vocal on that.

I think Roy’s management struggles come with (not) accepting the fact that players weren’t as good as him and they couldn’t do the things that he did or the things that Giggs or Scholes or Beckham could do. I think he got really frustrated with that. Along with poor results and performances, he just got into more arguments and lost his way a little bit.

“But the answer to the question, would I want to play for Roy Keane at the beginning? No. Would I want to play for Roy Keane now, five or six years in? I probably would, yeah. I think he is the type to learn from experience and after this campaign, it wouldn’t surprise me to see him go into a management job and do really well. I think he will have a better temperament.”

Looking ahead to the Euros, McAteer feels room should be made in the squad for a less experienced player such as Harry Arter. According to the 52-capped international, footballers such as Arter must be brought along for the experience, even if they are not quite deserving of a place in the first XI just yet.

Meanwhile, McAteer also backed former teammates Robbie Keane and Shay Given to travel, though he also feels the two veterans — who have 276 caps between them as it stands — are unlikely to get much playing time this summer. Citing his own experience, the Tranmere native says older players tend to gradually accept no longer being first choice.

“I think, as a player, it’s always hard to accept that you are not first choice and that you are not being picked. You have got to come to terms with that. When you come to terms with that and you are at peace with yourself, knowing you are not going to start, then your attitude changes.

In the beginning, you sulk and you want to be a part of it. You can mope around and you can feel disappointed and you can feel that you are better than the player who is playing in front of you. But when that acceptance comes, you become a team player. You are patting him on the back and giving him advice.

“I think Robbie is at that point now. I think he has come to the point where the acceptance is there and he is very much a team player. His experience is invaluable. We all need a legend around and Robbie is very much that.”

The 2016 SPAR FAI Primary School 5s Programme was the biggest yet as almost 24,000 children from 1,267 schools took part in county, regional and provincial blitzes nationwide. For further information please see www.spar.ie or www.faischools.ie.

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