What appeared to be an unworkable accord for the FAI only two months ago by allowing their senior team’s assistant manager be shared with an English Premier League club came to fruition at lunchtime through announcements made simultaneously in Birmingham and Dublin.
Keane officially begins work on the Bodymoor Heath training ground as Paul Lambert’s sidekick on Monday, though the duo have already been immersed in discussions throughout the summer on transfer targets and pre-season plans.
The reservations about the Cork man’s dual role which Martin O’Neill aired at the end of Ireland’s US tour three weeks ago seem to have dissipated on foot of discussions he’s since held with Lambert.
While he was insistent the addition of trusted allies Steve Walford and Steve Guppy onto his backroom team in May was purely coincidental, that beefing up of personnel has allowed O’Neill pre-plan for the dilution of Keane’s contribution.
“This is a good arrangement for us that allows Roy to remain in position as my assistant manager,” said O’Neill, who nearly lost Keane’s services entirely at the end of May when Celtic’s majority shareholder Dermot Desmond offered him the manager’s job at Parkhead.
“Since he started in November, Roy has been excellent with the players and I have no doubt that he will bring all of the positive attributes he has shown here to the role he takes on at Aston Villa with Paul Lambert.”
Keane himself, while excited at returning to the Premier League arena he last worked in six years ago as Sunderland manager, is adamant this development won’t diminish his zest for international duties.
“I am looking forward to linking up with Paul Lambert at Aston Villa and thank Martin and the FAI for giving me the opportunity to do so,” said the 42-year-old.
“I remain totally committed to my job with the Republic of Ireland and all that it involves.
“This agreement promises to be an exciting challenge and will give me an opportunity to continue developing my coaching skills on a daily basis that should ultimately benefit everyone.”
So what will the FAI lose as a result of Keane’s cohabitation?
Well, not too much of his core skills in the final analysis.
Fifa’s international windows during the club season free up his availability for squad gatherings.
It is within this setting that Keane’s excels, evidenced by the store with which the new breed in the panel such as Jeff Hendrick places in him, and that function remains intact.
What will alter drastically is his integral part of the scouting system, a task Keane attuned to with ease during the first eight months of the duo’s reign.
Over one weekend in January, for instance, his car ferried him from his home in Cheshire down to the south coast in Brighton and cross-country to Bournemouth the following day checking up on talent available to O’Neill and himself for the upcoming Euro 2016 campaign kicking off in 10 weeks’ time.
Although his contract compels Ireland’s assistant to undertake certain commercial and grassroots obligations for the FAI, the photo opportunities with sponsors and privileged access for corporate ticket holders to the man himself so commonplace to date are certain to lessen.
For example, Keane was expected to feature at the association’s ‘festival of football’ in the week leading up to their AGM on July 26. Instead, he’ll be back stateside, with Villa this time, for their friendlies against FC Dallas and Houston Dynamo.
The clamour for a piece of the Mayfield man contrasts sharply with the reputational battering he endured following his sacking by Ipswich Town in January 2011.
Slim managerial pickings were on offer during the ensuing 34 months, Turkish club Kasimpasa and Iceland’s national team accounting for a sum of two suitors, but all has changed since O’Neill took a punt on the former Ireland captain late last year.
Sheffield Wednesday, Celtic and Villa all made their interest known and Lambert’s swooning finally prompted Keane to compromise on his undivided loyalty to the Derryman.
“Although we never played together,” noted Lambert yesterday, “we competed against one another and Roy is someone for whom I have a lot of time and respect.
“He has worked under some great managers, some of the most successful in the game, and he’ll be a great help to myself as well.
“Roy brought Sunderland up out of the Championship and into the Premier League.
“He gained further experience at Ipswich — where we were close rivals while I was manager at Norwich — and he’s now working at international level as assistant manager with the Republic of Ireland.”