Quinn insists FAI have a job on their hands to keep Keane
Published 03/12/2015 | 02:30
Niall Quinn believes the lure of returning to a managerial role will present a problem for the FAI's efforts to keep Roy Keane in place as Martin O'Neill's assistant for the World Cup qualification campaign kicking off next autumn.
Ireland's management duo are contracted until the end of European Championships in June and, while O'Neill is committed to signing an extension, Keane has said he'll "play it by ear".
Quinn, who as Sunderland chairman, handed his former Ireland team-mate a first managerial post in 2006, has been mightily impressed by the Corkman's contribution to the cause since joining O'Neill at the helm two years ago.
Regaining his respectability following a slump at Ipswich Town, coupled with a desire to be the ultimate decision-maker, combine to make Keane a viable candidate for UK clubs as vacancies arise during the off-season.
"I think it's a racing certainty that Roy will go into top job," said Quinn. "It's a matter of when, not if.
"I hope it's after his Irish job is complete, that he goes back in after a time we've delivered.
"Wouldn't it be great if we keep that mix until the World Cup qualifiers?
"Selfishly as an Irish fan but I would hope Roy is still here but it will be a struggle to keep him because there will be suitors wanting to prise him away.
"If I was a chairman of a football club, and think Roy is available, of course you'd go for him.
"He'll still be a young man. It depends what comes his way but he'll definitely be back as a club manager."
Quinn says the soundings he's heard about his former nemesis from players, past and present, are encouraging.
He said: "Roy has got a fantastic education in his role as Martin's assistant. The Irish players tell me that his training sessions are excellent and his levels of advice are spot-on.
"I met Danny Higginbotham recently, who played for us at Sunderland, and he said he'll never forget some of things Roy did on the training ground. He was that good.
"With management, you've got to throw in various added things like scouting, recruitment, agents, along with difference of opinions with the board.
"I think that's what seemed to have happened at Ipswich."
Before straying into a stand-alone role, Keane and O'Neill will adopt a more sensible approach to managing the players in the lead-up to the Euros.
Jonathan Walters was just one player to complain of a "cabin-fever" vibe to the 2012 finals appearance under Giovanni Trapattoni.
"There was a big anti-climax when we qualified for the 2012 finals," noted Quinn.
"From speaking to a couple of players off-the-record about the last time, they said it was a wholly unenjoyable experience from the minute they got together.
"That was through the planning to the execution. Their on-pitch strategy didn't work at all either.
"Back then all we had were tactics and very questionable tactics at that.
"Things will be different this time, I'm certain of that. Martin and the team can build on the way they finished the campaign by beating Germany and Bosnia," added Quinn who was speaking at a Sky TV launch in Dublin yesterday.