O’Neill: I’ll be making the decisions

POSITIVE SIGNS: Roy Keane'sappointment as assistant to Ireland manager Martin O'Neill drew positive  comments from  Alex Ferguson  last night.Picture: Inpho

They may be Ireland’s dream team, but Martin O’Neill has made clear there will only be one man making the decisions.

Speaking ahead of his unveiling today as Ireland manager, the Derry man says that while he will consult with Keane, all decisions will rest solely on himself.

“I’m the manager,” O’Neill told The Guardian last night. “Eventually the decisions will fall to me. That doesn’t mean I can’t rely on Roy’s opinion but this was how I worked with John Robertson for years and years [at Leicester City, Celtic and Aston Villa].

“I would have decisions to make and John would have an input but, if you’re the manager, you live and die by those decisions. Having said that, I wouldn’t be expecting Roy to be playing a passive role.”

O’Neill says he has lost none of his famed zest for football.

“They ask me if I have regained my enthusiasm for the task after my experience at Sunderland. The answer is I never lost my enthusiasm,” he said.

“It gets forgotten that when I first joined (Sunderland), they were third from bottom with 11 points from 14 games. Because I won a number of games to start with, everyone, including the owner [Ellis Short], started to think we had cracked it.

“[Paolo] Di Canio was allowed to bring in 15 new players at a time and then didn’t last six games into this season. Since I left [in March], Sunderland have won three Premier League games. Di Canio, coming in, disparaging about everything, won two of 11 games. They’ve taken 12 points from a possible 51 since my time. “I wouldn’t have minded the opportunity to be signing 15 players. Nothing is certain in this game but my record in management over 20 years would suggest that we would have got the five points needed to stay up.”

Meanwhile John O’Shea has revealed that he had an inkling O’Neill and Keane might be linking up as Ireland’s new management team.

“I had spoken a couple of times to Martin who said he had spoken to Roy during the TV work they had done together in the past,” the Irish international said yesterday, “so I knew the type of ideas they both had and that they enjoyed their conversations. I knew that was never going to be as big an issue as people have made out.”

Now that it has, O’Shea is confident the appointments will prove inspirational.

“It can only be good because of the type of personalities they are in terms of winning mentality, drive, hunger and motivation,” he said, “all those things are needed for us to get going again for qualifying for tournaments and giving a boost back to the fans as well.”

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