Monday 23 September 2019

'I would take Robbie Keane all day long' - Harry Redknapp backs his former player to shine as a coach

Harry Redknapp
Harry Redknapp
Kevin Palmer

Kevin Palmer

Harry Redknapp has backed Robbie Keane to make a huge impact in Mick McCarthy's new Ireland coaching team, after he confirmed his record-breaking playing career was now at an end.

BT Sport pundit Redknapp has claimed Keane has all the raw ingredients to become a top coach and suggested he would be perfectly cut out to start his second career in the game as assistant to an experienced manager.

McCarthy handed Keane the first international cap of what became a record-breaking international career in 1998 and while some have expressed reservations that the 38-year-old lacks the tactical nous to make an impact as a coach, Redknapp has backed the striker he worked with at Tottenham to shine.

"If I was a manager of a football club now I would take Robbie Keane all day long on my coaching staff," Redknapp told us.

"You will never come across a better professional than Robbie. He loved the game, loved training and was just a wonderful fella to have around.

"Any club that has Robbie Keane in the dressing is a better club and he could be a fantastic coach or manager in the future, if that's what he wants to be.

"I was with Robbie at a charity match a few months back and he is the same as I remember him at Tottenham. Taking the game so seriously and treating it like a Cup Final.

"He's got a great way with the players and you know they will respect him for what he has done and the way he is on a training pitch.

"You never know how someone will adapt to coaching when they have a top career like Robbie, but he would be a wonderful assistant to have around and I'd jump at the chance to work with him again."

Talk of a coaching 'dream team' featuring an Irish soccer legend named Keane may send a shiver down the spine for some as five years ago, a very similar narrative was being presented to an intrigued football nation.

Roy Keane's appointment as Ireland assistant boss overshadowed the arrival of Martin O'Neill's in the top job and while the duo oversaw some glorious moments with an Ireland team lacking the quality of yesteryear, the legacy the duo leave behind should remind us all of the significance of a manager's backroom staff.

Alex Ferguson often suggested his assistants were as important to the success of his teams as star player and in appointing Roy Keane to a role he was spectacularly unsuitable to fill, O'Neill made his first fundamental mistake on day one as Ireland boss.

Assistant managers need to provide a buffer between the players and the man at the top of the pyramid, but Keane was never likely to fill that role and seemed to delight in declaring the Ireland players 'don't like me' at a press conference last year, yet Redknapp admits he needed to adapt his tired and tested methods to thrive in the modern game.

"Football management has changed down the years and what you have to do now is make people feel good about themselves; tell them what they can do, not what they can't," adds Redknapp.

"If you make someone think they are the best player in the world, they might play like that and you have to adapt to the way the game is now.

"Players don't take criticism like they used to when I started in management and you have to adapt to that. There is no point moaning about how times have changed because you have to adapt. The kids now have a very different attitude.

"I'd like to think the players that worked with me enjoyed it and you need them with you if you are going to have any chance."

The recent appointments of Kevin Doyle, Andy Reid, Richard Dunne, Colin Healy and Sean St Ledger to coaching positions with underage teams confirmed that the FAI are keen to have role models in place for the next generation to look up to.

In Robbie Keane, McCarthy has the ultimate icon of a generation to inspire those eager to follow in his footsteps.

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