Monday 18 December 2017

The lads have been trying to get hints but Roy is keeping a good poker face – O'Shea

Assistant boss silent on links to Celtic job as stand-in skipper admits he's resigned to losing old United colleague

Republic of Ireland skipper John O’Shea
Republic of Ireland skipper John O’Shea
Liam Kelly

Liam Kelly

REPUBLIC of Ireland skipper John O'Shea knows only too well that Roy Keane is unstoppable when he has a forthright opinion to offer – but now O'Shea and the Irish squad can't get any information out of the Irish assistant manager.

'Silence is golden' is Keane's motto as the speculation about his prospects of taking over as Celtic manager continues to overshadow the build-up for today's friendly against Italy at Craven Cottage.

O'Shea says the Irish players have been trying to get Keane to spill the beans on his future, but to no avail.

Keane has parked the bus on his innermost thoughts about Celtic, and won't say 'yay' or 'nay' about his future until he and the Parkhead chiefs, including majority shareholder Dermot Desmond, have explored all the options.

This is the 'new' Roy Keane, turning 43 in August, and with a mixed bag of experiences in club management on his CV.

Just over nine years ago, the 'old' Keano let rip in an infamous MUTV interview about the attitude and performances of team-mates at Old Trafford. United chiefs banned the screening of the interview, but the incident set in train a series of events which culminated with Keane's abrupt departure in November 2005, and paved the way for his brief stint as a Celtic player.

O'Shea experienced the turmoil of the end of the Keane era as a United player, and if the bookmakers and pundits are any judge, he's going to witness another unexpected Keane departure to Glasgow.

O'Shea, though, is now too long in the game to be surprised by anything that happens in football.

At 33, laden with medals from his United days, and relieved to have escaped relegation with the Black Cats, the multi-capped O'Shea relies on his gut instinct as a guide for this latest chapter in the Roy Keane story.

Speaking after training at Malahide yesterday morning, O'Shea indicated that the players are as intrigued about the likely move as anyone else.

For what it's worth, he believes it will happen and Ireland will have to move forward without Keane as assistant manager.

"Yeah, it looks very much like it now. At the start of the week it was mentioned, and slowly but surely it has snowballed into having talks with Celtic, so I'd very surprised if it doesn't get across the line," he says.

"The lads have been trying to get a few hints, but he has kept a good poker face.

"The lads are obviously talking about it, don't get me wrong. The lads are trying to pick up things. Is he on the phone? Is he not on the phone?

"With the information around with Twitter or whatever, Sky Sports News on in the hotel 24/7, speculation is not only in the papers, it's in the hotel too.

"If there was ever going to be any teams that could entice Roy back into the management role, I'm fairly certain Celtic was up there.

"When Martin took him back in, he was mentioned with a lot more jobs. We always knew there was a threat of losing him, and Celtic seems to have fallen into place for him at the right time."

The 2014 version of Roy Keane is less abrasive and more reflective than the 2005 passionate midfielder who could not tolerate what he viewed as a slackening of standards among his team-mates.

O'Shea's opinion on the benefit of having Keane around the Ireland scene underlines the potential loss of a man who could be a huge asset to manager Martin O'Neill when the serious trench warfare of Euro 2016 qualification starts.

"As the manager said, we'd be very disappointed if he leaves, because we know what a fantastic character he is to have fighting for us and on our side going into matches," he says.

"For the experience that he's given to not only myself, but to young players in the squad, particularly the young central midfield players, he's been very good.

"So that will be disappointing, but as I said they're (Celtic) one of the only few clubs around that he was going to be enticed back in to take the job."

Oh, and almost as an afterthought, let's not forget that mighty Italy are awaiting the Irish in a prestige friendly today.

"You're aware they are going to be fully wound up. They are playing for places in a couple of weeks for the starting XI for the World Cup," says O'Shea.

"They are going to be raring to go, but we're playing for the qualification spots and want to catch the manager's eye."

Irish Independent

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