The Republic of Ireland is set to announce the managerial partnership of Martin O’Neill and Roy Keane as successors to Giovanni Trappatoni, who was dismissed last September.
According to The Football Association of Ireland’s chief executive, John Delaney, the O’Neill/Keane partnership is a case of “job done” as talks between the two managers are reported to be at an advanced stage. Delaney, who hopes to make a formal unveiling of the pair next Saturday, will employ O’Neill as head coach and Keane as his assistant.
“I don’t see any impediment to that [signing contracts] happening. I hope that this Saturday, this coming Saturday, there will be an unveiling of our new management,” Delaney said. Delaney went on to describe the pair as “two great icons of Irish soccer” and noted that O’Neill “asked what the association’s view would be about Roy being considered and I said absolutely no problem.”
O’Neill quickly emerged as the favorite to take over the head coaching role following Trappatoni’s firing. Delaney wanted to appoint a manager who could implement a more attractive style of football and the former Sunderland boss’ name topped the list with his supporters within the FAI.
At that time, Delaney was also considering names like Mick McCarthy, Brian McDermott and Chris Hughton. When Roy Keane’s name was proposed, Delaney laughed given the pair’s tumultuous history – the former Republic of Ireland captain being sent home from World Cup 2002 and having once said “I wouldn’t take any notice of that man,” referring to Delaney – but nevertheless kept him on the list of possible candidates.
But it was O’Neill who sealed the deal to bring Keane on board when he asked the association its thoughts on making the controversial Irishman his No. 2. Delaney took the high road, “I said absolutely no problem” noting that Irish officials are happy to go along with the wishes of O’Neill. “There should be a line drawn in the sand in terms of Saipan and what happened,” said Delaney. “We were all younger people then and it was 13 years ago.”
O’Neill and Keane, both of whom had spells in charge of Sunderland, have forged a strong bond while acting as pundits for ITV’s coverage of the Champions League. Sources indicate that the duo’s wages for FAI would be subsidized by Denis O’Brien, the businessman who owns Newstalk Radio.