Roy Keane's double-jobbing has no downside - Coyle
OWEN COYLE does not believe there is any downside for Ireland in Roy Keane's decision to take on the extra job as assistant manager to Paul Lambert at Aston Villa.
The Glaswegian fully expected Keane to throw himself back into the game after two chance meetings when he was out of work, including an unlikely encounter at a Deacon Blue concert.
Coyle says that the Ireland assistant manager is a pal of Ricky Ross, the lead singer of the Scottish pop group.
"I've been with Roy a couple of times in the last year," said Coyle, speaking at the launch of Newstalk's Premier League coverage for the new campaign.
"Himself and his wife and myself and my wife met at the Deacon Blue concert in Manchester. Ricky Ross is a pal of mine and Roy knows him well so we were guests upstairs.
"We sat for over an hour before the concert and I've got a lot of time for him. And then we attended the Celtic-Shakhter Karagandy Champions League qualifier (August 2013) and, again, we had a really good laugh and a chat before the game and then watched it together.
"But you knew through those chats that the fire was still in the belly. He was just looking for that right opportunity."
Coyle, an acquaintance of both Martin O'Neill and Lambert, believes that the Corkman has found two of them.
"I think working with Martin. . . they have different strengths and both can help each other.
"And now there's the experience with Paul that will stand him with good stead. And that will also help the national team.
"He's involved in what for me is the best league in the world. He's seeing the best players and best systems, so he's going to bring all that knowledge and experience of club players to the national level.
"So I don't see what the downside is. I think it's a win-win situation."
There can only be one winner, however, when it comes to O'Neill and Keane's Euro battles with Coyle's native Scotland.
Coming from the Irish community in Glasgow - and speaking as a once-capped Irish international - the former Burnley, Bolton and Wigan boss keeps a firm eye on both camps.
He genuinely believes that the battles between the Celtic neighbours will determine the second automatic qualifier behind Germany, despite the presence of Poland.
"Both Martin and Gordon will think it's achievable," suggests Coyle, who is waiting for an attractive opening to get back in the game after a short-lived experience at Wigan due to a clash of personalities with owner Dave Whelan. "The sides are very closely matched.
"Gordon (Strachan) has done a terrific job with Scotland. They looked as if they were struggling to get a result anywhere before he came in. Now he's got them reinvigorated."
Coyle reckons that the Scottish FA's decision to bring Ireland's November visit to Parkhead could suit the away side.
He also thinks Ireland will benefit from the presence of a player with a similar background to his own: Everton star James McCarthy.
They worked together for a short time at Wigan before the Toffees swooped on the last day of the transfer window. The 48-year-old believes that the midfielder ticks all the right boxes.
"James has continued to get better," he said. "He is a complete midfielder. He is very good in the air, he's got pace, he can tackle, he can pass, he can run with the ball and he can score a goal. You'll get midfield players who have maybe three or four of those attributes, but he's got every attribute. There's nothing he can't do.
"And because of his age (23), I believe he is going to continue getting better. He's gotten better because, with all due respect to Wigan, he went to Everton with better players.
"When you saw James and Gareth Barry playing together last year, they looked as though they had played all their days together.
"And the great thing about him as well is that people think you need to get to 32 or 33 to become experienced.
But the James McCarthys of this world - and I had it with Jack Wilshere when I brought him to Bolton - these kids play for six or nine months and they have all the experience they need because of football intelligence."
Coyle was frustrated by budgetary constraints at Wigan, but he did get to purchase James McClean from Sunderland.
He is supportive of a player whose off-the-field decision-making has clouded his development.
"I don't think it was football reasons that set him back," he stresses.
"But I like him as a player and like him as a lad. He's misunderstood in many ways, he's got a heart of gold and does a lot for charity.
" I think if people had a full understanding of what he's like they would cut him some slack."