Whatever else you might say about Saipan, one thing’s for sure. It wasn’t boring.
As Martin O’Neill fine-tunes Ireland’s build-up plans for Euro 2016, Kevin Kilbane wryly observes that one upside of the infamous falling out between Roy Keane and Mick McCarthy before the 2002 World Cup was that it helped pass the time.
“We certainly had something to talk about before the World Cup,” he says. “In many respects it kinda killed a lot of time — and there was a lot of time to kill.”
Kilbane doesn’t foresee any such problems this time around but stresses the need for the Irish management to get the balance right between work, rest and play — something which members of the squad who went to the last Euros under Giovanni Trapattoni complained was distinctly out of kilter.
“When you speak to the lads, it was a long slog I think, even before the tournament began,” he says. “Trap’s thing about the lads was literally never leave your hotel.
“He wanted to get the Italian mentality about the side from day one.
“That’s what he wanted around the tournament.
“You know as well as I do, there is a certain amount of boredom sitting around a hotel for five weeks or whatever, without leaving the hotel, maybe going downstairs for a tea or coffee and that’s it.
“Mick (McCarthy) had a good balance when we were at the World Cup and I think probably Jack (Charlton) did before him. But there’s got to be a bit of trust from Martin and Roy towards the players.
“I don’t think the lads are going to go to Vegas for the week and go on the lash but I think there will be a time for them to go out and have a couple of beers and a bit of social time together,” he says.
Meanwhile, Kilbane says he is surprised the FAI and the manager have not yet signed a contract extension. “It seems like it’s a fairly straightforward deal to do and you’d think it could have been done three or four months ago”.
He hopes O’Neill and Keane will continue at the helm for some time.
“Roy is doing a good job alongside Martin, the team is working and myself, personally, I’d like to see that continue and go through to the World Cup with both of them.”
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