Roy Keane has played down speculation linking him to Celtic and stressed that his sole focus right now is on helping Ireland do well at the European Championship finals in France.
Speaking on ESPN’s Beyond The Pitch podcast, Keane’s comments also strongly suggested there has been no approach thus far from the Parkhead club to see if he would consider replacing Ronny Deila as manager.
“The only time you think you might be interested in a job, or the only time you know, is if you’re asked,” he said.
“So this idea of speculation about other clubs...there’s always club jobs coming up. There’ll be club jobs coming up over the next few weeks. But until someone asks you the question, ‘would you take that job?’, there’s no question to answer. And at the moment, my focus is working with Martin (O’Neill) and all the players and staff and making sure that we go to the Euros and make Ireland proud. Everything else will fall into place after that.”
Keane said he hoped that some of the painful lessons learned at Euro 2012 will be of benefit to Ireland in France.
“We have a few players who were involved in the last European Championships that didn’t go so well so we’d hope we’d be better prepared, wiser to it, more experienced,” he said.
“I think at the last European Championships the players involved had a poor start to the first game. It’s vital you get something on the board in the first game. We’ve got a lot of experience in the squad, we’ve got Martin O’Neill involved and we’ve got good staff. We’re well organised, we have good spirit and a bit of momentum. Players are playing with a lot of confidence at the moment, players like Shane Long.
“I know people are talking about it being a very tough group but we’re being very positive about it. We don’t want to just go over there and say, ‘listen, let’s have a few pints and a sing-song’. Them days are gone with Ireland, particularly with Martin on board and hopefully myself and some of the other staff and, to be fair, the players now who are involved. We don’t want to be back after a week or so, we want to stay over there as long as we can, get out of the group and take on some of the bigger countries.”
Asked about Louis van Gaal’s uncertain future at Old Trafford, the former Manchester United captain said he hopes the Dutchman can oversee the successful end to the season that might yet keep him in his job.
“It was always going to be difficult, even for David Moyes, after Alex Ferguson,” said Keane.
“But I think if United can win the cup — it might be difficult to finish fourth — I don’t see why United won’t let him finish out the last year of his contract. I think Van Gaal has made it clear he’d like to do that. And I hope he does. I don’t like sitting around watching managers suffering and I think if they can win the FA Cup then it might just give him the breathing space to finish the job off next year — and that, when we’re talking about Manchester United, is winning league titles etc.
“Rebuild is too strong a word but there’s a lot of hard work ahead for Man United because of the competition around. Leicester coming through. Chelsea will be stronger next year. Man City with a new manager. It’s not going to get any easier for United but if they’re going to recruit again this summer — which it looks like they’ll have to — whatever about getting good players, United probably need two or three characters in the team so that on their bad days they’re capable of grinding out results.
“I just think they don’t have enough characters in that team to get them back to winning league titles at this moment.”
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