'It would be the natural progression' - Shay Given on Roy Keane's credentials to be Ireland manager
Shay Given has told Independent.ie that Roy Keane will be in pole position to take over as Republic of Ireland manager if Martin O’Neill’s reign comes to an end in the next few weeks.
Ireland’s World Cup qualification hopes were seriously dented by last Tuesday’s 1-0 defeat against Serbia at the Aviva Stadium, sparking speculation over the future of O’Neill as his contract edges towards a conclusion.
The appointment of Keane as his successor would be a controversial move given his colourful history with Football Association of Ireland chief John Delaney, while his disappointing record from his time in charge of Ipswich would also be a black mark against his coaching reputation.
There has also been some suggestions that Keane is not popular with senior members of the current Ireland squad with the former Manchester United captain appearing to confirm that suspicion with this comments back in June.
"I’m pretty sure a lot of the players probably don’t particularly like me so I would keep my distance from them," stated Keane.
"When we work, we work and when we’re off, we stay away from each other."
Keane's stand-off approach suggests he is not fulfilling the traditional role of an assistant manager, who is generally asked to provide a buffer between the head coach and the players.
Yet veteran international Given has refused to rule Keane out of the running to succeed Keane, as he spoke to Independent.ie at an eir Sport event in Dublin.
"It would be the natural progression for Keane to take over (as Ireland boss), be it this time if Martin stepped away or in the future," stated Given.
"I think he’s quite keen and it’s no secret that he wants to get back into management, whether that’s with Ireland, a club in England or another country.
"He’s not made any secret of that and I’m sure that he will be back in management one day and maybe that will be with Ireland."
Given suspects the FAI will look to retain the services of O’Neill and Keane regardless of the outcome of Ireland’s World Cup Group D campaign, with the high profile duo likely to be given a chance to make a final decision on their own futures.
"I think he probably should stay," added Given as he assessed O’Neill’s position.
"We were unbeaten in qualifying until this week and it has worked well with Martin and Roy over the last couple of years.
"I know he got a lot of stick after the Georgia game. I think it was unfair in a sense as the players themselves admitted they were below par. You get off days in football and that was one of them.
"The Serbia performance was far better. You would have to ask Martin what he wants to do but I’m sure the FAI will want to keep him and Roy for the next campaign."
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