ROBBIE Keane jumped to Noel King's defence after the row between the interim Ireland manager and RTE spilled over into the aftermath of a victory over Kazakhstan.
The Dubliner again came in for strong criticism from the RTE panel after an animated post-match TV interview where he took issue with the suggestion that Kevin Doyle and Anthony Stokes were deployed out of position.
"They've played there umpteen times for their clubs," said King in a tetchy exchange with RTE's Tony O' Donoghue.
He accused O'Donoghue of not having "done his homework" and claimed the RTE reporter was denigrating the players.
"Don't talk to me about that, don't talk to me about that please.
"Kevni Doyle was not played out of position. If anyone wants to do their homework, he has played there loads of times for his club.
"This is typical, don't degrade the players' performance."
Dunphy accused of him being a "bully", adding: "He is immature, out of his depth."
Both Giles and Sadlier said King was "disappointing".
After the interview, Eamon Dunphy, a vocal critic of King after Friday's defeat in Germany, suggested that he was 'out of his depth' and John Giles said he lacked maturity, but Keane praised the work of the caretaker.
"I don't know if there's anything between them (King and Dunphy) but he hasn't spoofed any of the lads this week. He's been honest as they come, a credit to himself the way he handled himself," said Keane, who had earlier registered his 61st international goal.
"To come in, change it all up and leave out players who want to play, he's done well. All the lads enjoyed him, he's one of our own, he's fantastic."
"If Noel is here in November the lads will support him but you'd imagine it's the perfect time to have a new manager," he said. "Otherwise, what's the point in having these friendlies?"
King addressed his TV anger in his subsequent press conference with the rest of the media and insisted that he hasn't been bothered by comments from Montrose. "If you're asking about it, you obviously think it's important but I don't think it's important," he said.
"All players have strengths and weaknesses, they all deserve to work hard and not take ridicule from anyone and we need to stop that," he continued, veering into a general theme about general punditry. "We have to appreciate who we are as a country, give up the nonsense and try and be the best team that we can be."
On the plus side, Ireland finished the night in pole position to be second seeds for the Euro 2016 qualifiers. The victory coupled with defeats for Turkey and Slovenia against Holland and Switzerland respectively means that Romania are the only team capable of pushing Ireland out of the second pot, but they have to win both legs in next month's play-off and will be unseeded for that mission.
The low point of the exercise was a serious injury to Everton midfielder Darron Gibson, who sustained suspected knee ligament damage in the first half. His club manager Roberto Martinez, who was in Dublin, said that it didn't look "too good'' for the 25-year-old.
King praised his players for their application and reserved special words for Andy Reid, who was deployed as a central playmaker.
"I thought we got the ball down and tried to play good football. Andy was immense," he said.
The stand-in gaffer confessed to feeling relieved at delivering the necessary result. He acknowledged that some players were unhappy to be left out of both games, with James McClean tweeting afterwards about a "long 10 days" before deleting it and Shane Long sending out a veiled message which hinted at frustration.
"I understand it," said King, "Being here for two games and not playing, it's horrendous. You should try it. Do you think they'll be dancing?"
The 57-year-old conceded that, while he has enjoyed an educational time in charge, he is looking forward to a break. "Every ounce I have has gone into the last two games," he admitted. "I'm tired and I can't wait to go home."
As he left the room, King thanked newspaper reporters for their coverage and indicated they hadn't been too hard on him, while joking that he would be happy to have a break from seeing the same faces.
He was clearly unaware and very surprised when he was informed that he is pencilled in for a press conference in Abbotstown this morning to reflect on his 10 days in the hot seat.
By Daniel McDonnell