“A great appointment” is how Steve Bruce has described Martin O’Neill’s decision to select Roy Keane as his number two, with the Hull City boss predicting the pair will work well together at the helm of Irish football.
“I want to wish Roy and Martin the best of luck,” he said. “It is a terrific appointment. I am sure Ireland is excited by it. They have got an experienced manager in Martin and then you have everything that Roy brings to the table.
“He can bring a huge enthusiasm to the Irish support. It is international football and the one thing Roy has to offer is enthusiasm. The one thing you can never accuse Roy of is not having a hunger or desire to do well.
“I am sure he will do his best to help Martin and also learn a little bit as well from a really good manager in Martin. It is a great appointment.”
Bruce has four Ireland internationals — Robbie Brady, David Meyler, Stephen Quinn and Paul McShane — in his squad and he added: “I would have thought I would get a phone call to see how the four of them are doing. I think all four of them are delighted by the appointment from what I can gather.
“Let’s hope all four of them are in and around the squad and long may that continue.”
In fact, only two of them – Brady and Quinn – have made the cut for the upcoming friendlies against Latvia and Poland in a squad which was picked by former caretaker boss Noel King.
Meanwhile, Paul Lambert is another Premier League manager enthused by the appointment of Martin O’Neill – his former boss at Parkhead — to the Irish job.
“It is not a surprise at all,” said the Aston Villa manager. “He will give the country a lift just because of the connection with Celtic. I loved my time playing under him for five years. He will do that job absolutely no problem whatsoever. It will give the country a massive, massive list.”
Rodgers: O’Neill will do brilliant job
By Richard Buxton
Some 375 miles from the polished surroundings of Dublin’s Gibson Hotel, where Martin O’Neill’s official unveiling as Ireland manager will take place tomorrow, there will be approving glances from one of the Derry man’s former Premier League peers.
In some quarters, O’Neill’s appointment has been touted as an impossible job. But the one-time Northern Ireland captain is no stranger to that billing, as countless years of cheerleading as a potential successor to Alex Ferguson at Manchester United will attest.
Brendan Rodgers, however, believes it will usher in a prosperous new era for his well-traversed compatriot, now enjoying a 42nd year at the game’s coalface.
“I think if you look at a lot of the international teams, there’s very few managers that will be from the country they work with,” Rodgers said.
“Martin will have an affiliation. Being from the North, he’ll understand the mentality of the Irish people. For him, it’s just about doing the best for the Republic of Ireland, and I don’t think anything else comes into it.
“He’s worked across the levels. I don’t think you can criticise him in any way. He started at non-league level and came right the way through and has been really successful as a club manager so I’m sure he’ll do a brilliant job.”
Rodgers continues to harbour his own international ambitions. Next month marks two years since he rejected the chance, while at Swansea City, to manage Northern Ireland on a part-time basis.
But the 40-year-old, 18 months into his Anfield reign, has no plans to give up tackling with the day-to-day rigours of club football with continued zeal for several decades yet.
“I think one day, when I might be a bit more tired and need a few more days’ recovery! I’ve always said it’s something that I would love to do at some point in my career,” he said.
“I’m 40 years of age. I hope for the next 20 to 25 years I can be in club management I’ve got probably too much energy at the moment to think of anything other than that.”
Michael O’Neill was eventually named Nigel Worthington’s successor in late 2011 and Rodgers predicts the 44-year-old can revive the North’s fortunes.
“At this moment in time, Northern Ireland has the perfect manager in Michael O’Neill,” he added.
“He’s doing an absolutely phenomenal job considering he’s restricted in so many ways, in terms of the choice of players, and I feel for him.
“Every international that comes up is very difficult for them and they end up having probably more losses than wins but that shouldn’t undermine the great manager that they have there.
“He’s an outstanding man, Michael, and I’m sure if he’s given the opportunity and given the resources to at least develop the strategy there in Northern Ireland, they can be a force again as well.”
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