Advice to Roy Keane: ‘You can’t go bawling and yelling at people’
Nottingham’s new assistant manager will ‘bring steel’ to the team, says Liam Lawrence
Roy Keane, who has been announced as Martin O’Neill’s right hand man at his former club Nottingham Forest: ‘I’m glad to be back’
The news that Roy Keane has finally signed up to work as Martin O’Neill’s assistant was received with predictable enthusiasm amongst Nottingham Forest fans yesterday. The former midfielder completes what is clearly regarded by many in the locality as a sort of dream team.
In Dublin, around about the time the news broke, a man with a Roy Keane nightmare tale to tell had been pencilled in by the FAI to speak to the press as part of the association’s effort to drive awareness of and recruit volunteers for its part in staging Euro 2020. “Aargh,” exclaimed Liam Lawrence in mock horror as the questions started. “I knew you were going to get me on Roy Keane.”
The Corkman had been at the City Ground on Saturday to watch a side that had been significantly reshaped by the new manager beat Wigan 3-1, and his arrival at the club’s training ground on Monday morning confirmed that the pair will indeed be working together again, back at the club where both made their names as players.
“I am happy to be back,” Keane told the club’s website. “Things moved pretty quickly over the weekend. It is nice to get the deal done and get involved this morning with the first session. I am looking forward to it, it is a big challenge and I am ready for it.
“Obviously, I had great memories of my career here as a player, the club gave me my chance and I will always remember them for that,” he said.
“But it is a different challenge now, a huge challenge ahead and I am in a different position, coaching the players. After 20 years out of the Premier League it will be tough. There are a lot of big clubs in the Championship fighting to get out of it.
“But when Martin got the job and gave me a shout, I thought that once a few things fell into place I’d be ready for it. We will give it a good go, I have huge respect for Martin and the club and it fell into place nicely. I have seen the team a number of times over the last year or two and it is going to be tough, but hopefully, with one or two signings, a bit of luck we can hopefully be competing.”
Keane’s ability to land a sizeable manager’s job of his own have been affected by his first two attempts at the role. Neither Sunderland nor Ipswich went to plan and it might be argued in both instances that his often-difficult relationships with players hindered his attempts to get the best out of the teams at his disposal.
It is a decade since one training ground spat, between Lawrence and Keane, brought the former’s Sunderland career to a juddering halt, but these days the 37-year-old ruefully accepts his own share of the responsibility for what occurred and believes Keane will bring positives to the table at Forest.
“If he goes in there I think he’ll bring a bit of steel and stuff,” says the former Stoke City midfielder. “Sort a few players out if they need it. It’s going to be interesting to watch, isn’t it?”
Lawrence recalls the coach in Keane who could organise good sessions on the training ground. “I can’t fault his coaching,” he says. “Sometimes, though, the people skills need a little bit of working on.
“Over last 10 years, players got a lot of power; you can’t go ranting and raving at individuals anymore,” he says. “Look at what Solskjaer has done at United by putting an arm around players and getting them back onside. He’s turned the club massively around. You can’t go bawling and yelling at people.
“In terms of a coach, his sessions were good. In the modern day, though, you’ve got to manage players. They go on about mental health and all that; you’ve got to keep players onside. If you’re falling out with players, it’s no good, not in today’s game.
“Trap was good,” he says of former Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni. “He was generally good with the players, around lunchtime and things like that. When he needed to lose the rag, though, he lost it . . . sometimes in another language. It could have been in German, it could have been anything!”
Lawrence last played for Ireland in May 2011, after which the Italian called him to say his time was up. “We just had a phone call one day,” he recalls. “I was disappointed because I had done well at times and was involved in most of the games. But there were a couple of games that I could have done better. I respected him and what he said and that was it. At least he phoned me.”