Saturday 17 February 2018

'Bad cop, worse cop' – Martin O'Neill on his 'excellent' working relationship with Roy Keane

Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill and assistant Roy Keane
Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill and assistant Roy Keane
Declan Whooley

Declan Whooley

Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill says he does not want to alter his image of being the disciplinarian in the management team and praised his assistant Roy Keane.

O'Neill and Keane have overseen Ireland's qualification for Euro 2016 following a play-off victory over Bosnia and the former Celtic and Leicester City manager has heaped praise his number two.

"Roy has been just excellent," he told "In every aspect I can think of, I’ve been delighted with his contribution and how the relationship has worked. Clearly there’s an age difference between us and, while he’s been a manager before and will go back to that again soon I’m sure, I think he’s enjoyed this role.

"Those extra years I have on him don’t guarantee respect, of course – you have to earn respect from Roy Keane as we all know.

"But we get on very, very well together. He’s excellent for the players too because he’s a lot closer to their generation and they all remember and admire him for what a wonderful, iconic player he was. Having said all that, these will probably be famous last words when you hear in a couple of months that he and I have had the biggest bust-up of all time!

"Joking aside though, the dynamic seems to have worked very well and it’s been a joy having him in that role.

O'Neill joked when he took over as Ireland boss in 2013 that Keane would be the "bad, bad cop" and says he is happy with the image he has cultivated in the role.

"I do not want to change my image as a bad cop! But I think someone described the two of us as not so much ‘good cop, bad cop’ as ‘bad cop, worse cop’. You’d have to ask the players whether that’s about right.

"The thing is, we’re both really, genuinely enjoying it. And although things like enthusiasm and enjoyment might seem simple and trivial, they can be so important in football. Especially if they rub off on the players."

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