Robbie Keane wants manager who is ‘very strong in his views’
“If it was Mick . . . if it was Roy Keane or Martin O’Neill . . . I don’t think you could go wrong with any of them.’
Robbie Keane with Richard Dunne at yesterday’s Republic of Ireland training session at the Aviva Stadium. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho.
The FAI have yet to consult with the Republic of Ireland players about who they would like to see succeed Giovanni Trapattoni as Ireland manager, which is a pity as Robbie Keane’s contribution would certainly spice things up.
“I want someone who is honest, doesn’t mess around . . . has balls, you know . . . someone who doesn’t take any s**t from anyone,” said the Irish skipper who, it seems, may have been hanging out with the wrong crowd in LA.
Pressed on what particular aspect of the job necessitated those particular items on a candidate’s CV, Keane suggested that it was the job as a whole: “Everything, to be honest with you,” he said. “I don’t want to be specific on certain things but I think . . . everything.
“Whatever you think that that is then that’s probably right. Probably everything that comes into being an international manager, knowing that if someone doesn’t get picked or something like that they are less likely to get upset with a manager who is very strong in his views.”
The team, of course, has just spent a fairly long period being run by a man who had strong views to beat the band but Keane gets the sense that the association is still inclined to go for an Irishman this time around despite the apparent stalling of the Martin O’Neill Plan A and the lack of obvious progress on a Plan B or C.
“The names that I keep hear being mentioned [O’Neill, Mick McCarthy and Roy Keane], if any of them took over I don’t think anyone would be too unhappy. It could be any of those, I don’t know.
“Whoever it is, though, I think that it’s important that it’s a fresh start for the whole country and that we get behind him and wish him well, whoever it might be.”
O’Neill started the race as an almost unbackable favourite but now seems in limbo, potentially leaving things open for others.
Roy Keane’s disappointing record and difficult relationship with John Delaney have to count against him, but many question whether it would be wise for McCarthy to “go back” if only because there is apparently a saying that suggests you never should. Keane is not so sure.
“Well why not,” he asked. “It happens. In Holland they’ve done it a few times.
“Mick was a great guy; a fantastic guy and I think everything that we’ve referenced he covers so if it was Mick . . . if it was Roy Keane or Martin O’Neill . . . I don’t think you could go wrong with any of them.
“I’m not saying that the manager has to be one of them but they’re the three names that are being mentioned and I don’t think you could go wrong with any of them.”
What he seems more certain about is the need for the association to come and sit down with those who are to be managed to ascertain what qualities they feel are required.
“You’re not going to get anywhere in life unless you ask people their opinions. Whether they’re what you want to call experts or whatever, whether they’ve played, there’s no harm in asking people what they think because you’re only going to learn things and open your eyes to certain different things that are going on around you.
“If anybody wants to ask any of the lads a question then I’m sure that they’ll be very open . . . they could ask me what we want as a manager at this particular time and if they know that then surely it’s more likely they’ll make the right decision. Ultimately, though, the decision is down to the FAI.”
There is the possibility that it won’t matter to the Dubliner as he might retire from international football when the campaign is done and dusted late this evening but he knocked that one on the head immediately.
“I’ll play,” he said, “as long as I feel healthy.”
And as long as the goals go in, the next manager will, one suspects, be happy to have him.