Niall Quinn: Is Roy Keane the man to drag Ireland out of the abyss?
Ireland’s game against Italy was nothing more than a face-saving exercise. Performances at Euro 2012 have been a disappointment and everyone wants to have their say on why it has gone wrong.
Roy Keane has been one of them, but the question I have for him is: would he be interested in taking over as manager if the opportunity arose?
The Giovanni Trapattoni believers told us before the tournament that Ireland would be organised and hard to beat. He prepares so meticulously, there would be nothing he wouldn’t know about the opposition.
But the thing that has disappointed me most is the lack of cohesion. We weren’t hard to beat, we didn’t have a wall in front of the goalkeeper and a wall protecting the back four in front of that.
I was as guilty as anyone before the tournament began of believing the final game against Italy would decide who would qualify for the knockout stage, them or us, but we were already out and we couldn’t even get a positive result in the last game.
I agree Trapattoni’s position has to be looked at by the Football Association of Ireland and it will interesting to see whether he still has that hunger. We have to see whether there is still some life left in his reign.
I’m not going to call for the manager’s head – we shouldn’t be in too much of a hurry to do that – but the FAI needs to assess the whole tournament.
The hairs on the back of my neck were standing on end when the fans were singing Fields of Athenry and the joke in Dublin at the moment is maybe we should have a welcome home parade for the fans, not the team. It’s tongue in cheek, of course, but that is the way people feel.
They’ve been fantastic, but Roy does not accept mediocrity and Ireland’s performances in this tournament were mediocre at best. That is what he was criticising, the idea that we were happy to accept those standards.
It would take a huge leap of faith from both him and the FAI to appoint him, but also the fans he has railed against and the players he has criticised. But can he be the spark that ties it all back together and leads Irish football to redemption?
There is history between him and the FAI, but there was history between him and me before he accepted an offer at Sunderland and he did a great job for me there as manager.
Just because there is history between them doesn’t mean they can’t resolve their issues and work together in the future.
He is available and if he sees a problem with the way Ireland are doing things, is he prepared to take the problem by the scruff of the neck and impose himself on it?
What players will be available for trying to qualify for the World Cup is unknown. We might have reached the end of the road as far as a lot of the senior players are concerned, but before the likes of Richard Dunne, Shay Given and Damien Duff decide they’ve had enough, I urge them to take their time.
When I retired from international football, and when I retired from playing at Sunderland, I felt exhausted and I thought I was standing in the way of someone else coming through.
A couple of months later I absolutely regretted it. I felt fine and strong and I knew I still had something left to give. It was too late for me to change my mind and I hope the older players in the squad have a good long think about it before they make any decision.
As for those who want them to go, if we lose five or six of the senior players, we may as well accept we are going to spend a long time in the international wilderness. The depth of talent in Ireland isn’t deep enough to lose so many at once.