Monday 23 October 2017

Roy Keane: ‘People think I’m crazy but I would have been crazy to turn it down’

Roy Keane has admitted he would have been “crazy” to turn down the Ireland assistant manager’s job, before insisting that he is not just waiting for a Premier League team to come along.

Speaking to the media in Malahide, Keane revealed the job was too good to turn down

"It was too good to turn down. It seemed like such a good fit I couldn't say no. People think I'm a little bit crazy but it would have been crazy to say no.

"I would only manage under a manager with the stature of Martin O' Neill.

"There wasn't one bone in my body that said no this is not for me and I sat down with Martin and there was nothing to discuss. We said let's go for it."

The Manchester United legend has been out of management since he was sacked by Ipswich Town two years ago but felt he should have been given another chance in England.

Republic of Ireland assistant manager Roy Keane
Republic of Ireland assistant manager Roy Keane
Republic of Ireland assistant manager Roy Keane arrives for a press conference ahead of their Three International Friendly match against Latvia
Roy Keane speaks during the press conference
Roy Keane signs autographs for supporters at the end of squad training ahead of their Three International Friendly match against Latvia
Roy Keane signs a jersey for a young fan before the start of squad training
Manager Martin O'Neill of Republic of Ireland and assistant manager Roy Keane talk during a training session at Gannon Park
Roy Keane, left, goalkeeping coach Seamus McDonagh, centre, and trainer Dan Horan arrive for squad training
Manager Martin O'Neill of Republic of Ireland and assistant manager Roy Keane talk during a training session at Gannon Park
Manager Martin O'Neill of Republic of Ireland and assistant manager Roy Keane talk with the players
The pair talk with staff before a training session at Gannon Park
Roy Keane issues instructions during the training session
Roy Keane issues instructions during the training session
Roy Keane during training
Roy Keane talks with captain Robbie Keane during training
Republic of Ireland assistant manager Roy Keane during training
Martin O'Neill looks on during training

"I felt clubs should have given me an opportunity. I had two opportunities to get back into football. Obviously, one of them was working abroad, another was an international job and it didn't quite fall into place.

"But there is certainly clubs in England I felt should have given me an opportunity.

"It was frustrating but I also know you have to be patient."

O'Neill has described how he wants to harness the energy of the 42-year-old former Irish captain and Keane believes he won't have anything to control.

"There is nothing to tame, I'm not some sort of animal," he said.

"To work hard and push people and sometimes I have got that slightly wrong on one or two occasions but looking back I think I got a lot of it right."

Keane also said  he was not "friends" with O'Neill.

"This is not an old pals act. I hope I can bring something to the table or Martin O'Neill would not have asked me to come on board. He is a serious manager. It is a compliment that Martin brought me on board.

"Other managers could have viewed me as a threat or a troublemaker" but it is a sign of Martin's confidence in himself that he wanted to take me on, he told journalists at his first press conference today since he took on the new role.

"Martin, I felt from day one, was the right man for it and the fact that he was interested in bringing me on was perfect."

He refused to speak about Alex Ferguson's criticisms of him in the press and in his new book.

"If people tell lies about me I'm going to defend myself but I'm not gonna sit here and defend myself regarding Alex Ferguson. That's for another day. It's not an area I want to go into today," he said.

"Football is about opinions but when it lies.... today is not a day for that."

Today's press conference, his first public engagement since signing on with the FAI, represented a massive occasion and the world media gathered at Malahide.

After taking a second session this morning, Keane was brought before a packed crowd in the Guttenberg suite of the The Grand in Malahide this afternoon which had three times the seating made available for O'Neill yesterday.

He said that all past differences with the FAI were in "the past" and the aim was to qualify for tournaments "starting with Euros in 2016".

Keane also said the minimum standard was to qualify for international tournaments.

"The remit is to try and qualify and if we do that let's go and have an impact."

He described the job as "too good to turn down. I set high standards. I'm not going to apologise for that".

Keane revealed that although training was going well and he had "enjoyed himself" over the last couple of days, instant fixes were not possible.

Keane also found time for a joke about the row that led to his exit from the World Cup in 2002.

"The hotel's been lovely, food's been excellent, training ground is lovely. There are no potholes. We got footballs, bibs, everything. There has been major progress."

The return of Stephen Ireland was not ruled out. 

"It's great to see him(Stephen Ireland) back playing. If that's an area Martin wants to me to look at - I'll talk to him."

He refused to criticise the previous manager Giovanni Trapattoni: "I think the previous management did a very good job. They were in a very difficult group."

Keane was asked about how Giovanni Trapattoni had played down the players' abilities when it came to big games.

"The record hasn't been great over the last few years," he said.

"From my own experience any time I played for Ireland, and obviously we had some good results. We always felt we had a chance to wn every match we went into, it doesn't always happen of course because you come up against top teams.

"Ireland have played some top teams over the past few years. The Germany's of this world are outstanding. When you look at the likes of Sweden and Austria, I feel like Ireland should always be getting better results.

"I know Martin will have the same mindset as me that you have to go into every game no matter who you are playing, believing you can get the right result."

When asked about his own reputation, Keane said: "I set high standards. I'm not going to apologise for that".

Keane revealed that the discussion with O'Neill took a couple of days. "I met Martin and John Delaney in London and it took a couple of days."

Ray Houghton said that Roy Keane mentioned to him that there may be players on the current Irish team that were better than him.

"I don't think I said that. I don't remember saying that. I dunno if Ray had a few pints in him," he said.

"Sometimes players don't know how good they are, I may have said something along them lines."

When asked whether he had talked to some of the players before accepting the job: "It's none of their business. That's a stupid question."

"They are enthusiastic and hungry to play for Ireland. I never questioned players' hunger and desire.

"Despite what people might think, I got on with a lot of the players I looked after"

"We're very driven, very professional. We want to win."

He said that being an assistant gave him an opportunity to coach more.

"Being an assistant maybe I can be closer to the players and more hands-on."

Getting into his stride he told the media that he would not be the bad bad cop as Martin O'Neill described him: "He makes me look like Mother Teresa".

Throughout the conference, Keane made numerous references to O'Neill being "the boss".
Speaking on ITV last week, Martin O'Neill said the he would be the 'bad cop" and Keane would be the 'bad, bad cop' but the Corkman doesn't see it that way.


"I am Martin's assistant. He is the boss. I am here to assistant him and help him."

He also defended himself when it came to his passion for football.

"The day I lose any passion for football ,  I'll stay well out of the game."

He said that there were huge differences between working as a TV analyst and with a team on a regular basis.

"When you're in a TV studio it's quite easy but when you're in a dressing room it's completely different."

Martin O'Neill and Roy Keane will take charge of the Republic of Ireland for the first time when they take on Latvia at the Aviva on Friday before travelling to Poznan to take on Poland next Tuesday.

By Cormac Byrne and Garreth Murphy

Online Editors

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