Saturday 24 February 2018

Keane ‘delighted’ to prove old scoring habits die hard

By David Kelly

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

There's more than one Keano. If there was one inevitability about last night's turkey shoot, then it was the prospect of a goal from Robbie Keane.

His 62nd in all marked the start of a new managerial era, just as his 61st had, albeit unwittingly, marked the cessation of the old one.

His position in the side may remain a dilemma for all the hipster types who wallow in the fetish of formations.

But while he refuses to stop scoring, it continues to be countenanced that he can be denied a place in an Irish side regardless of who is managing the side.

"As a striker, it's always nice to score, obviously I'm delighted with that but more importantly delighted that we got the win and the way the lads played," he says breezily.

"It's always important to get off to a good start with a new manager coming in, to do things in the right manner and we certainly did that tonight. It was a convincing performance, we weren't really threatened too much by them.

"At the same time, you still have to go about things in the right way and we did that.

"There's been a buzz about the whole place. Of course when a new manager comes in, there'll be an enthusiastic reaction. That's a normal thing.

"The crowd were up for it, the whole nation has been up for it in the last couple of weeks. It was important we tried to put on a good display and we did that."

He admits the weakness of the opposition but, then again, that did not prevent Irish teams of recent vintage retreating into a fearful shell of their normal selves.

Last night, at least, some sense of expression was admitted. Not that Keane wanted to paint the picture for us.

"I don't want to speak about the previous manager. Everyone has moved on. We know what Martin O'Neill is like, he's a very passionate manager, isn't he?

He's a very strong person and obviously with Roy there as well it's all been very positive.

"Both of them talked. Roy has great knowledge and he was going around talking to individuals and talking to them which you'd expect from any manager or assistant. That's what every manager I've played under has done. That's only natural.

Everything is still there. It's not like we've gone out and bought 20 different players or something, we can't do that. It's the same squad. Obviously a new manager has come in and of course he's going to have different ideas. Everything though is much the same."

They will return to Poland, a graveyard so recently, in happier spirits now. "We can look forward to a new era now."

There was even a blast from a more distant past.

"What was Jack Charlton's song? Put them under pressure, we were like that tonight."

During the week, Martin O'Neill sighed as he contemplated the prospect of working with a scoring metronome nearer the retirement home than the crèche.

The impish Wes Hoolahan, with whom he dovetailed in a side who bristled with verve and energy, a high press encouraging playmakers and wingers alike, suggested that his captain could play until he was 40.

"I hope so," said the captain. "We'll see."

A statement that seems to reach beyond even imagination. Then again, that has been the story of his life in green. He just keeps rolling.


Irish Independent

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