Roy Keane may find he is perfectly suited to being in the number two seat, according to his old enemy and international team-mate, Jason McAteer.
Keane has enjoyed an impressive start as assistant to Martin O’Neill as the new management has overseen a win and a draw against Latvia and Poland respectively.
The former Manchester United skipper will warm to a long-term stint in the job and realise that his spells in charge of Sunderland and Ipswich did not go exactly according to plan for very good reasons, reckons McAteer, who believes O’Neill can control the 42-year-old’s temper and bring some new qualities out in him as a coach.
“It must be difficult for Roy to step into an assistant manager’s shoes after being a manager and the player, and the personality that he is. He’s going into unknown territory as assistant manager,” said McAteer.
“I think he’s mellowing with experience, not age. He’s not daft. He reads the papers. I don’t think he has too many friends but the ones he has, he listens to.
“I don’t think you will see Roy Keane coming into the dressing room and throwing things and shouting his mouth off. It will be all off the back of Martin O’Neill because he’s the manager. Roy is there to assist.
“I think we might just find out over the next two or three years that Roy Keane is an assistant manager and not a manager.”
Speaking yesterday at Setanta Sports’ launch of their festive period of live games, McAteer, nicknamed ‘Trigger’ in his playing career, was quick to play down his colourful exchanges with Keane and insists they have moved on.
Mike Phelan, who played briefly alongside Keane at Manchester United, believes the Corkman will have learnt a lot from his two managerial spells.
Phelan, a long-time coach at Old Trafford and former assistant to Alex Ferguson, believes a player shouldn’t go straight into management, like Keane did, as they miss out on a crucial learning period. Still, though, there are a lot of factors that Keane will take from his time in the top job that should help him in pursuit of qualifying for the 2016 European Championships in France. “You’ve gone for the experience and the part-experience. Martin is a very a solid character, he’s been there, seen it and done it, he doesn’t get flustered too easily so he can handle all that. And Roy, as his sidekick, will benefit from that,” said Phelan.
“There is a way to learn your trade and I think Alex [Ferguson], in his wisdom, has always said the process is do some coaching, get your badges, get qualified and then move into that arena, which is cut-throat — it is do-or-die sometimes, so there is a case to learn your trade along the way.”
McAteer reckons Keane’s reputation as one of Irelands greatest ever players will help get the younger players on board.
“The generation that Roy and Martin have got will look up to them, certainly and think he’s a bit of an iconic figure. They’ll want to do the best for him,” said McAteer.
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