The former Aston Villa boss and Manchester United hero will lead the Boys in Green together but their appointments may do little to improve fortunes in the long run
By Ronan Murphy
Martin O'Neill may be the incoming manager but it is the most high-profile assistant in Irish football history who is commanding the headlines.
Eleven years after Saipan and Ireland is again divided over Roy Keane.
He will bring discipline to an increasingly intractable group of players. Players that need bosses who will "take no sh*t," in the words of captain Robbie Keane.
Conversely, the former skipper's own confrontational nature may well work against him - especially since he has only been named in a subordinate role himself. His own managerial teure at Sunderland and Ipswich Town suggests that quarrels are never far away.
It is not just O'Neill or the players who should be on alert over Keane's short temper, though.
Keane singled out FAI chief executive John Delaney after Ireland's disappointing exit from Euro 2012. "Is it any wonder that people think we’re just there for the craic when the chief executive of the FAI is pictured dancing on tables or is videoed effing and blinding to Irish fans late at night to supporters who are the worse for wear," he wrote in The Sun. "What other chief executive would carry on like that?
"We're all entitled to a night out but do it discreetly. How can he be expected to be taken seriously? And how, as a nation, can we be expected to be taken seriously when we're happy to go along with that image?"
As Delaney's employee, Keane will be expected to now 'go along with that image'. The CEO spoke on Irish radio on Tuesday morning to confirm a detante between the two but how long can that last? Host Pat Kenny likened the naming of Keane in an Ireland role to watching Formula 1 hoping to see a crash. He might have a point.
But that is to miss the point.
Keane may well have all the attributes to keep players in line but whether he can accommodate for the failings of the squad is yet to be seen. O'Neill has a much weaker pool of players than those alongside whom the new assistant used to play in green and it will be difficult for the duo to be successful given the tools that they have on offer.
From Marco van Basten to Diego Maradona, truly elite players have struggled to put their message across to players who simply cannot do with they did.
Since Giovanni Trapattoni was dismissed, O'Neill had been linked heavily with the job, with Mick McCarthy the only other name gaining any traction. Whereas Trapattoni was a marquee name with a glittering CV, the candidates this time were all out-of-work British-based club bosses with little or no achievements to their names.
Of that lot, O'Neill was the one with the biggest reputation and the FAI board deserve credit for getting their man. On the other hand, cynics would argue that a Premier League job did not come around quick enough for O'Neill, so he took the next best offer.
The new man showed that, like Trapattoni, he is a manager who has his favourites and will play rigid, defensive football to churn out results. Trap without the pedigree, to be blunt about it.
The November friendly with Latvia may fill the Aviva Stadium due to the novelty factor of O'Neill and Keane but the games 12 months on may not have the same impact if so-called 'exciting football' is not on display.
By the time the European Championship qualifiers roll around in September 2014, that novelty factor will have worn off. It is only then whether we can tell if Irish fans are still living the dream, or if O'Neill and Keane is just more of the same.