Saturday 16 December 2017

O'Neill and Keane to join forces in triumph for FAI

Roy Keane and Martin O'Neill
Roy Keane and Martin O'Neill

DION FANNING

The FAI board of management are expected to meet on Tuesday, after which Martin O'Neill and Roy Keane may be confirmed as the new Irish management team.

The Sunday Independent understands that the deal for both men was completed yesterday and they are expected to be presented at a news conference by the end of the week.

The deal for O'Neill was completed on Friday and the FAI had no objection to his choice of assistant. Keane is believed to have agreed to become part of O'Neill's team within 24 hours. Steve Walford, O'Neill's trusted coach, is also believed to be part of the coaching staff.

O'Neill and Keane are expected to be paid more than Giovanni Trapattoni and Marco Tardelli were by the end of their time with Ireland, with a combined package of over €2m per annum.

DOUBLE VISION Pages 4 and 5

It is not known how long their contracts will be but O'Neill is believed to see it as a long-term project. Reports that Keane would sign a shorter deal could not be confirmed yesterday. O'Neill's appointment represents a triumph for the FAI. He had always been the preferred candidate to succeed Giovanni Trapattoni and while there were times when it looked like the Association would have to look elsewhere, they are entitled to feel pleased with the appointment.

Keane's recruitment has already created massive interest and the friendly game against Latvia on November 15, which appealed to very few when it was announced last week, will be close to a sell-out.

O'Neill will be in Spain analysing Manchester United's game against Real Sociedad for ITV alongside Keane on Tuesday night and then they are expected to travel to Dublin after that. If it is an appointment that has electrified Irish football, it has stunned the wider game. Celtic manager Neil Lennon commented that he was surprised by the move.

"It is very interesting," he said. "They are two great characters, two great personalities. They have a vast knowledge of the game. They are two very proud guys. God help the players!

"I am surprised, yes. I didn't realise there was a connection between the two of them before now. Roy Keane has a great knowledge of the game and he was a magnificent player; one of the best of his generation. He has a presence that will lift a team and keep players on their toes.

"And we all know what Martin is like. I think it is exciting and I think they will be exciting to watch now."

Sunday Independent

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