As Ireland press conferences go, it might have been the biggest headline grabber since Mick McCarthy broke a little news in that Chinese restaurant in Saipan.
O’NEILL RUES ROY ROLE
“It’s certainly given me some headaches.”
MOVE OVER — AMBITIOUS KEANE IN EARLY JOB THREAT
“I said to him the roles that we would have and he told me he would reverse those in about 10 minutes.”
FERGIE PRIMED FOR KEANE REVOLT
“One of the greatest managers in the game finally decided Roy was no longer wanted because he felt he was going to be overshadowed. So if he decides on the same thing, I might call Alex Ferguson up and see how he dealt with it.”
GHOST OF A CHANCE, WARNS OLD BOSS CLOUGH
“He would have had some palpitations. I think he would have worried for both of us.”
TACTICS ROW MARS LATVIA BUILDUP
“Roy disagreed with my selection for the 2003 UEFA Cup final. Unbelievable. Unbelievable. He said he would probably have won it.”
KILLING TIME — LEAGUE OF IRELAND LAST RESORT FOR BORED GAFFER
“I wouldn’t mind a few trips back here — get out of the house.”
O’NEILL SLAMS PLASTIC PADDIES
“You wouldn’t really want to be picking someone who was just tenuous... Jack Charlton went back to someone sharing a drink with someone. It didn’t worry Jack.”
FAI BOSS ALREADY BANKING EURO LOOT
“John has put it no uncertain terms; with the extra teams qualifying, he sees there being no problem whatsoever.”
Fortunately — or unfortunately, depending on your priority — Martin O’Neill delivered each of those lines in jest, as he chose to banter away the persistent fascination with his assistant during a gentle televised introduction at the Gibson Hotel in Dublin.
Partly down to a deadpan delivery that owed a little to Jack Dee in his pomp and perhaps partly because it’s been a while since journalists could sit in front of an Ireland manager and know for sure if he was joking; O’Neill had to actually point out ‘I was joking there’ several times, as the laughter in the room edged towards nervous.
But, in the main, there was the carefree vibe of halcyon honeymoon days, when managers can say what they like and the press are largely obliged to talk of promise.
The punchlines kept landing as O’Neill’s attention was drawn to our conveyor belt of talent, which many feel could do with oiling.
He told us he’d spoken to the underage coaches, who had cited two prospects, with one rider.
“They also told me they were under-16, which is a fat lot of good to me; under-16 with a two-year-contract; I’m not sure that works.”
Give it a brace of home shockers and the same gag will land him accused of short-term thinking.
We are a long way away from that yet and Bad Cop had cause to flash his badge just once on Saturday, when the removal from his last beat was raised.
“They appointed a manager who criticised just about everything that went on before and he’s not in work now.” Bad Cop zings Bent Cop.
But without Bad Bad Cop, on duty at Villa, this was never likely to be an arresting bow. Incidentally, a man called Greg Childs, on Twitter, claimed to have bumped into Keane at Villa Park, prompting an exchange that suggests Roy’s jokes will always carry that little bit more edge.
“Who are you watching, Roy?” “Are you a policeman?”
Whether it happened or not, perhaps a reminder to the new gaffer that his sidekick’s natural urge is to fight the law.
Hold those headlines.
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