Wednesday 18 September 2019

'There's no harm in Robbie doing two jobs,' insists Dunne

Keane's former team-mate reckons his new club role won't conflict with his international position - for now at least

Richard Dunne will be a key part of Premier Sports' broadcasting team for the 2019/20 Premier League season. Photo: INPHO/Bryan Keane
Richard Dunne will be a key part of Premier Sports' broadcasting team for the 2019/20 Premier League season. Photo: INPHO/Bryan Keane
David Kelly

David Kelly

Perhaps one of the most bizarre aspects of the FAI's managerial succession plan that was overlooked by the smart suits in Abbotstown was the fact that they committed one man to both regimes.

That the man in question is Robbie Keane merely exposes another crack in a cack-handed concoction that, even if it may yet become an unwitting success, will do so despite, rather than because of, any acute foresight and careful planning.

Mick McCarthy has, at least, steadfastly assented to the terms of his bountiful contract which will see him depart regardless of the outcome of the European Championship qualifiers - or, as Irish supporters hope, the actual tournament itself next summer.

By that stage, Stephen Kenny is slated to succeed McCarthy as Irish manager and, one presumes, will also be keen to retain control over his own staff.

That Keane will still be on the FAI's books may complicate matters.

So too, some might argue, the fact that Keane is currently allowed to be on Middlesbrough's books - he was appointed assistant manager this summer and was given permission to double-job by McCarthy, rather than anyone in charge at the FAI, if indeed anyone was.

However, his former team-mates Richard Dunne and Gary Breen insist that Ireland's record goal-scorer should be allowed the opportunity to hold down both jobs even if there might be a collision course with Kenny down the line.

"I don't think there's any harm in him doing both," said Dunne, who can see his boyhood Tallaght pal managing his country in the future.

"The two jobs will run smoothly side by side. There are a lot of players in the championship who qualify for us who he can keep any eye on at the same time. So I don't see a huge problem. But there's not a clear pathway in terms of Ireland for him. Even the next bit isn't clear.

"If it goes as organised and Stephen Kenny does well at the start, it would be foolish to get rid of another manager just to give an opportunity to someone who has been assistant for only two years and who might not have even had a number one role.


"I can only assume Robbie signed the contract with the FAI based on the knowledge that Stephen Kenny was going to take over in two years' time.

"That's what he would have agreed to. But circumstances change all the time.

"And he wouldn't have been aware at the time he was going to become assistant manager at Middlesbrough.

"The overall goal for Robbie is to manage Ireland. But there is no rush. Mick's agreed to it for the moment and Robbie was granted permission.

"Now down the line Stephen might have different ideas, Robbie might have different ideas when the time comes as well. It all might become clearer in a while.

"But I don't think Robbie would give up the chance to be part of the Irish coaching staff too easily. If it works for everyone, great. But if he leaves it would be with a heavy heart. And he would still want to be the manager some day."

Another former team-mate, Gary Breen, says that Keane will soon understand how difficult it might be to juggle commitments for club and country.

"I'm glad to see him get a coaching role at Middlesbrough and I think he can do both jobs. But it's very difficult. It's 24 hours a day. I'm glad he's doing it because he needs to learn how to coach. You don't get an Ireland gig if you haven't coached before.

"I understand that he's there in a mentoring role but I know from working under Mick McCarthy that Terry Connor will do the coaching.

"Everyone is billing Robbie as assistant manager, he's not that, he's assistant coach. So it's part of his learning curve. I can understand why he's with the Ireland team, he's our greatest ever player in terms of what he achieved. But he needs to learn his trade. Simple as that.

"I don't care how good a footballer you were, being a coach or a manager is a totally different remit and you have to learn how to do it.

"Ultimately, those players at Boro will judge him on the sessions he puts on, they won't judge him on how many goals he got for Ireland." Richard Dunne and Gary Breen are part of the Premier Sports team for its coverage of the 2019/2020 season when they will broadcast 53 games in Ireland

Irish Independent

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