Roy Keane: It'll be easy to do both Villa and Ireland jobs
Published 23/07/2014 | 02:30
Roy Keane has made it bluntly clear that his recent appointment as Aston Villa's assistant manager is a positive rather than negative development for Ireland.
While concerns remain about Keane's ability to provide a concentrated focus on his Irish duties, especially as the workload of an assistant manager at a Premier League club has the potential to be huge, the Corkman is adamant his role with Villa will not affect his international commitments.
"It will be easy to do both jobs," said Keane in an interview with Today FM. "I'll do it no problem. I'm getting fed up with people being so worried about it. I obviously weighed everything up before making my mind up. I spoke to Martin, the FAI and Paul Lambert. I didn't just jump into it.
"I know from my own experience that I will not become a better coach sitting in a TV studio. My experience will improve when I'm working with players on a day-to-day basis and when I'm working with the international players. I'm going to be seeing games close-up and I'll improve as a coach. That's a guarantee. I really don't see the problem."
What he does see as a problem, however, is the threat posed by the Germans in Ireland's upcoming Euro 2016 qualification group. Yet despite his high level of respect for the four-time World Cup winners, Keane is still planning on masterminding an upset when the teams meet in Gelsenkirchen this October.
And just to add spice to that encounter, he didn't shy away from killing a sacred cow, suggesting Bastian Schweinsteiger was somewhat overrated.
"Yes, Germany are the hot favourites to top the group and all the others will think they have a chance of finishing second or third.
"But from my own experience as a player and as a coach, we have to believe we can win every game we go into. We have one of the more difficult groups, but that is something to be excited about.
"Philipp Lahm going is a blow in many respects for them, but the strength in depth they have, the fact they have an experienced coach and that they have big players involved in big games every season, is clearly an advantage.
"They can bring that experience from their clubs into international football. You can't buy that.
"But a big problem for the Irish team over the last few years is the fact that a lot of lads aren't playing in big games – not even big Premier League matches.
"They are lower down in the leagues and when you get to these big international games it's difficult. So, yes, it will be tough against them, but if we have a bit of luck and a good mind-set then, of course, I would be positive.
"Sometimes people can go on a bit too much about certain players.
"People said a good few years ago to me that Schweinsteiger was the type of player Manchester United need and, of course, he would walk in and do good job. I know what he is capable of and thought he was outstanding in the World Cup final.
"But he was just doing what he was supposed to do, winning tackles and getting stuck in. He wasn't as brilliant as you think he was, I think he did a good job, he did what I expected him to do and did it well."
So far Keane and O'Neill have performed well in restoring the feel-good factor to the Ireland international scene but the results have been below average.
Just one win, three draws and three defeats have come from their seven matches. Yet all have been friendlies which count for little or nothing.
And when the real business gets under way in September against Georgia, both men were yesterday expressing the view that they will relish the pressure that comes with the territory of managing Ireland.
"The serious stuff starts soon," said O'Neill. "I don't pretend to know Roy that well, but I wanted him as my assistant and he has been everything and more than I wished for. We're not bosom buddies or big friends. We have not invited each other to any dinners. We're here for professional jobs and I want to do this job to the best of my ability and he's the same. We want to qualify.
"It will be difficult. For me when it comes to September, it becomes really intense. I'm a really intense guy. Selfishly I want to do well for myself but I'd really like to do well for everyone. Qualifying for France would be fantastic."
Keane added: "This is a nice pressure. We are here to win. It is as simple as that. If people don't expect you to win, you should be worried about that. I'm happy with our group of players with their mind-set and their attitude. We can do well."
Meanwhile, Ireland received a timely boost last night when Darron Gibson made his comeback for Everton in their friendly against Tranmere. It was the midfielder's first piece of action since suffering major knee ligament damage playing in the World Cup qualifer against Kazakhstan last October.