As the FAI continue their search for a new manager, Robbie Keane's comments ahead of the Kazakhstan game make it clear that a strong-minded individual is necessary
By Ronan Murphy
With the Republic of Ireland still searching for a new senior manager, captain Robbie Keane spoke of how the side needed a harsh taskmaster to keep them in line. "I want someone who is honest, who doesn't mess around, who understands how important it is to be proud to be an international manager, to be proud of what we are trying to achieve in Ireland," he said. "Someone who is honest, somebody who has balls, you know... someone who doesn't take any sh*t from anyone."
Giovanni Trapattoni brought that disciplined mindset to the Irish set-up, gaining the respect of Keane and other senior members of the panel. As a result, these older players rarely had a negative word to say about the Italian when speaking to the press. Keane repeatedly spoke of Trapattoni as a "legend of the game", in press conferences where words such as respect and attitude were often bandied about.
Trapattoni had little room for sentiment during his tenure; players who pulled out of squads due to a lack of fitness or disappointment at being overlooked were left by the wayside as the former European Cup winning manager stuck to his system.
After failing to feature in the 2-1 win over Kazakhstan, James McClean took to Twitter to vent his frustration. However, the young winger was chastised by the senior squad members for his actions and brought back into line by the manager, who continued to leave McClean on the bench.
Anthony Stokes and Andy Reid were cast aside by Trapattoni following run-ins with the management team, and the duo did not return to the Irish camp until after the Italian's departure.
Conversely, interim manager Noel King harks back to a more player-focused mindset, which proved to be his detriment on Friday, as he "couldn't make a change" with Ireland losing 2-0 because his players "deserved" to stay on.
The Brian Kerr and Steve Staunton eras were accompanied by a relaxed attitude between management and players, with both ending in failure, and a similar appointment would prove extremely detrimental to the future of Irish football.
Keane realises that the younger players must take responsibility for their actions, and as a result the manager must be someone who can control their behaviour on and off the pitch. The 33-year-old wants to see a hands-on successor, who will oversee "everything that comes into being an international manager, knowing that if someone doesn't get picked or something like that, are you going to be upset with a manager who is very strong in his views?"
King has brought back some of these ill-disciplined younger players that Keane refers to - as Trapattoni exiles Reid, Stokes, Darron Gibson and to a lesser extent, Kevin Doyle have all been offered an olive branch to return.
The more-established players realise what Trapattoni brought to the table, and understand that the Boys in Green have been playing above their level, while still receiving snipes from the sidelines. Just two days ago, Aiden McGeady iterated as much when calling the managerial position a 'poisoned chalice'. "Whoever takes over is going to have a lot of pressure," he said. "A lot of expectation to try to turn things around, well, not turn things around, but have a slight change in fortunes."
The younger players, like McClean, had gotten too big for their boots, and were rightly reined in during Trapattoni's tenure. King's players-first approach may have undone some of this work, but the true successor can still keep the players in line.
Whoever the FAI appoints, it needs to be someone who treats the job, and the players, with the respect they deserve, but at the same time knowing where the power lies. Ray Houghton and Ruud Dokter are taking their time with the appointment, and hopefully this means that these qualities are high priorities in the next Republic of Ireland manager.