'I can't wait to work with O'Neill and Keane', says John O'Shea
O'Shea insists 'inspirational' duo can revive Irish fortunes, writes Daniel McDonnell
LIKE every other exuberant Ireland fan, John O'Shea sat down on Tuesday evening to watch his new managerial team and he was pleased by what he saw.
He could sense that Martin O'Neill was back to his old self, buoyed by his new job and the decision to appoint the man standing next to him, Roy Keane, as his number two.
O'Shea had an idea it was coming because he had spoken to O'Neill during the process and sensed that his former manager at Sunderland was keen to introduce a wildcard.
The Waterford man could tell from O'Neill's demeanour that he was thrilled that the plan had come together. He was a different figure in his final, miserable days at the Stadium of Light, but it seems that the spring is back in the 61-year-old's step.
"Martin looked lifted on the TV," said O'Shea, who is looking forward to travelling over to Dublin on Monday, provided he comes through his team's joust with Manchester City tomorrow in one piece.
In his new book, Alex Ferguson suggested that Keane was very harsh on a young O'Shea (right) when they worked together at Manchester United, naming the Irish defender and Darren Fletcher as two players that benefited from his departure.
However, the 32-year-old insists that the Corkman was a positive influence in terms of motivation and feels that his presence will have a major influence on the younger players in the Ireland set-up.
Indeed, there appears to be a genuine acceptance that Keane is the type of figure that the new ticket needs, even amongst those who've sparred with the assistant boss in the past.
Jon Walters, who fell out badly with Keane when he left Ipswich for Stoke, is understood to be enthused by the appointment, while Paul McShane – who missed out on the Latvia and Poland squad named by Noel King – has also come out in favour.
"It has got the excitement back for the public and the players should be looking forward to working with two inspirational characters," said O'Shea.
"I know both of them very well and if they have spoken to each other beforehand and decided they want to go forward together it can only be good really.
"I know the type of person they are. They are winners and motivational and it really is going to be exciting. Everybody should be looking forward to it, the supporters, the players in the squad and the media. I think you will see hopefully the football public in Ireland will really get behind it.
"I know there is a bit of time to go before our first competitive game because we are not going to the World Cup and the next qualification games are not until September but that means there is time to digest it all.
"I am sure Martin and the team behind him will be buzzing to get that to build up and get a good idea of the squad, the players and younger lads coming in because, to be fair to Giovanni Trapattoni, he did bring a lot of them into the team and he played quite a few young lads.
"They will enjoy the squad because it is a good set of lads and they will see that from the training. We will enjoy working with them as much as they will enjoy working with us, hopefully."
O'Shea remembers the initiation ritual that Keane put every new signing or fresh-faced youngster through at Manchester United. In training, he would show no mercy, belting the ball in their direction and seeing if they could handle the pace.
"He would give them a little test to see if you were comfortable with the situation," he reflected. "Oh I had the run-around alright! But that was not just Roy, it was the whole of the United squad.
"It was a good introduction – just to let you know you were a Manchester United player now and you were going to get a good test here to see how you dealt with it. He was spot-on with me. The standards he set were brilliant because he wants to win and that is what we need.
"Roy is arguably Ireland's best player so having him in the dressing-room for the younger lads to look up to and thinking that he is on our side wanting us to win will be great."
Still, O'Shea was keen to stress who the gaffer is. "We have Martin's experience," he said. "He is the boss. He is the main man and we will be guided by him and the team he has in place. From knowing the two men and having them on our side, it is going to be brilliant.
"It can only be good because of the type of personalities they are in terms of winning mentality, drive, hunger and motivation – all those things are needed for us to get going again for qualifying for tournaments and giving a boost back to the fans as well.
"I enjoyed working with Martin. He would be fairly confident he would have kept us up (at Sunderland). That's one of the things that happens in football and he has a chance now.
"As he said on the telly, a chance to manage the country does not pop around that often so he will be looking forward to that and (be) energised again.
"Hopefully that will be transmitted to the players. I'm looking forward to next week. I can't wait."