Sunday 25 September 2016

Celtic job a non-runner for Keane

Published 21/04/2016 | 02:30

Republic of Ireland assistant manager Roy Keane
Republic of Ireland assistant manager Roy Keane

If Ireland had failed to qualify for Euro 2016 then perhaps the timing of Ronny Deila's departure from Celtic would have presented an opportunity for Roy Keane.

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Instead, his French commitments make it a non-runner unless the relevant parties are ready to forgo all logic as they plot their next move.

Celtic have to get the next appointment right after a deflating spell under Deila and, crucially, they need a boss who is ready to come in and hit the ground running.

Back-to-back failures to make the Champions League group stages left Deila on a sticky wicket from the beginning of each season.

They will begin their journey on July 12 or July 13, and their performances in recent years with an average squad short of match practice means they cannot afford to be complacent about the first hurdle they face.

Therefore, they would need a manager in the place by the middle of June for the start of pre-season. Realistically, the chosen man would have to be prominently involved in the business of recruitment prior to that date.

In other words, it means that Keane would have to effectively skip the Euros in order to do the Celtic job properly, and that won't be happening - both the 44-year-old and the Celtic hierarchy would be leaving themselves open to deserved criticism if they allowed him to double-job until whenever Ireland's interest in the tournament draws to a close.

Keane was the Hoops' preferred candidate two years ago but had a change of heart when he was leaning towards accepting.

Stock

His stock is arguably higher now after a solid spell working as assistant to Martin O'Neill and he stressed yesterday that he was thinking about a return to management as a shorter-term as opposed to a long-term aspiration.

The counterpoint to that slant would be an unsuccessful spell backing up Paul Lambert at Aston Villa but everything we learn about that dressing-room indicates that falling out with Gabby Agbonlahor vindicates Keane's judgement of character.

Leaving aside the logistical implications that make the Corkman filling the vacancy a non-runner this time around, the early indications are a two-horse race between David Moyes and Neil Lennon, where only the latter horse definitely wants it: the Celtic role still comes with the same health warning.

Keane's reputation was damaged by an unfortunate stint at Ipswich and it's stating the obvious to point out that he requires a smooth introduction to his next gig.

Granted, Rangers' return to the top flight should add an edge to domestic fare if European ambitions go awry, and that makes it a risky proposition for whoever goes there. Moyes, the leading candidate, may take some convincing.

There is a niggling feeling that the logical progression for the Ireland assistant will be to one day step into O'Neill's shoes. With a small bit of uncertainty surrounding the Derryman's intentions, then there is a chance that debate could materialise sooner rather than later.

Either way, the serious discussions should be postponed until the bags are packed at the end of the French adventure.

Irish Independent

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