Wednesday 17 January 2018

O'Neill's former boss expects 'rock and roll' duo to hit high notes

Martin O'Neill
Martin O'Neill

Garry Doyle

Niall Quinn has backed Martin O'Neill to tame Roy Keane's excesses and turn Ireland's new managerial partnership into an effective coalition.

Having appointed both men to the head job at Sunderland during his time as chairman at the Stadium of Light, Quinn's opinion carries a degree of authority as well as obvious bias. Yet while expressing enthusiasm about their arrival into the Irish international scene, Quinn also hinted he is unimpressed by his old club's decision to sack O'Neill.

"Martin alone, even without Roy there, would create passion and electricity," said Quinn. "We saw that against Latvia, the way the players were running around, the energy they were exuding.

"And I witnessed that impact when Martin came to Sunderland. I just can't believe it wasn't sustained. When I left, we had just beaten Arsenal and moved to eighth in the table. Within a year he was gone. That's Sunderland's loss and Ireland's gain.

"Martin has never really spoken about what happened and I wasn't there so I cannot explain it either but for the life of me, I will never understand why he is not Sunderland manager."

Few understand why he decided to bring Keane -- and all his historic baggage -- into the Irish job, either. Yet Quinn is not cynical about the appointment.

"Martin will get the best out of Roy," he said. "You can already tell from some of the comments that the players are enjoying working under Roy. The double impact of both men is rubbing off.

"It'll get better too because they'll look at the U-21s, the U-18s and the League of Ireland. With Trapattoni, those areas weren't even given lip service.

"I remember when I was a young player at Arsenal and Jack Charlton came to watch me. That gave my confidence a huge lift. Imagine now how a young player will feel when Martin or Roy stops to speak to them. They'll grow enormously because this is a box-office appointment. It is rock and roll.

"You only have to look at James McCarthy to know he will benefit from Roy being there to tutor him."

And, Quinn insists, O'Neill will be great for Keane. "What's essential for the two of them is that Martin's message is being added to by Roy," he added. "It seems to me that he (Keane) has his mind concentrated on what he has to do in this job. It is a great opportunity for him.

"I looked at the body language of the two of them during the Latvia game and the whole thing seemed to work really well. The times ahead in Irish football are exciting."

Irish Independent

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