Martin O’Neill and Roy Keane last night inked a €2m-a-year deal to become the Bad Cop-Bad Bad Cop of Irish football.
O’Neill will be presented to the Irish public on Saturday minus his new assistant, who will join up with the Republic of Ireland squad on Monday for next week’s friendly against Latvia.
The marriage made in media heaven was in Sociedad last night on TV pundit duties with O’Neill declaring: “I think I’m the bad cop and he’s the bad, bad cop.“We’re excited by it. It looks like we’ve something to go with. I’m looking forward to it greatly.”
Keane added: “I’m very excited — I might not look it, but I am.”
The confirmation of contract agreements last night will pay an immediate dividend for the FAI, which expects a massive spike in attendance for next week’s Aviva Stadium friendly with Latvia. An extra 10,000 on the gate would be worth €250,000.
FAI chief John Delaney spoke several times to Keane in the past week: “I was very taken by him. He wants to come. He’s been a great footballer. He was Martin’s choice. I come from a school where the manager chooses his backroom team. People need to draw a line in the sand. [Saipan] is gone. Now is the time to stop talking about it. They are two icons of Irish football.” One of their first decisions may be whether to welcome prodigal son Stephen Ireland back into the fold.The Aston Villa midfielder declared yesterday: “I would like to get together with Martin O’Neill or Roy Keane and have a chat. I left the Ireland set-up under bad circumstances. This new management has excited me. We’ll have to sit down and talk. I’ve a lot to think about. We’ll have to have a sit down and talk, and see what we can do.”
Meanwhile, an angry John Delaney last night called on former manager Brian Kerr to apologise for his “bang out of order” claim that the FAI’s initial approach for O’Neill had come before Ireland’s 2-1 defeat by Sweden.
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