Saturday, November 2, 2013

Dream Team

Ireland and the FAI have got their man. With speculation mounting and betting suspended it now appears to be a badly kept secret. Martin O'Neill will be unveiled as Ireland manager on Monday. The twitter machine has been into overdrive with news that MON is likely to unveil Roy Keane as his number two.

While Martin O'Neill's appointment is being welcomed by fans from Derry to Kerry, the appointment of Keane as assistant is proving to be divisive. It has stoked up tensions of the 'Civil War' which ensued following the Saipan debacle. The country seemed to be split down the middle as to who was at fault for the Manchester United captain's departure from World Cup 2002 in Japan and South Korea.

My own opinion of Saipan is that Mick McCarthy, Roy Keane and the FAI were all equally culpable. However, we are talking about a World Cup nearly 12 years in the memory. It's firmly in the past and it is time to move on.

O'Neill ticks all the right boxes. He is a good coach and has an excellent CV. His record at Leister City and Celtic is exceptional. At Sunderland he did not have his sidekick John Robertson by his side, after a positive start results began to flounder and Martin was shown the door. His replacement Paolo Di Canio's short reign and poorer points average is testament to the fact that Sunderland were wrong to sack O'Neill.
The partnership with Keane could be a masterstroke or it could all end in tears. There are fears of a media circus where the reporters are more interested in the outspoken Keane's comments rather than asking MON about the team and squad.

For this to work Keane needs to keep a relatively low profile and stay in the shadow of O'Neill who will be the 'Gaffer' after all. Keane also needs to realise he will not be calling the shots and do the job of an assistant manager rather than a joint manager. Marco Tardelli (lets not forget was also a high profile right hand man of Trapatonni) filled this role well.

Of course the FAI will be very happy in getting their man. The appointment of Keane as number two will be seen as an added bonus as it is bound to have a positive effect on attendances and generate much needed additional revenue for the organisation as it strives to clear it's Aviva Stadium debt.

There is no doubt with the expanded Euros Ireland have a great chance of making the short trip to France for Euro 2016. Ireland are second seeds in the 23 February draw (provided Romania don't win their two WC playoff games). With the top two in each group qualifying automatically and the safety net of a seeded playoff for a third place finish, qualification will be expected.

Let's wait until Monday for an official announcement and then get behind the new Management team starting with the upcoming international friendly against Latvia on 15 November at Lansdowne Road.

Possible Ireland starting XI
Coleman Dunne O'Shea Wilson
Gibson McCarthy Whelan
McGeady Houlihan

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