Keane factor will boost O'Neill's Ireland but what happens when the novelty wears off?

The appointment of two such fiery characters has got the country talking but their appointments may do little to improve the national team's fortunes in the long run
By Ronan Murphy

Martin O'Neill may be the incoming manager but it's 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.

The Manchester United legend will bring discipline to an increasingly intractable group of players; players that need bosses who will "take no sh*t," in the words of current 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 spells at Sunderland and Ipswich Town suggest that confrontation and controversy will never be far away.

Martin O'Neill
Roy Keane
John Delaney

                               Three to tango | Ireland's new managerial team and CEO John Delaney

It's not just O'Neill or the players who should be on alert over Keane's short temper, though.

Keane singled out Football Association of Ireland (FAI) supremo 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." Keane 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 detente 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 Keane used to play alongside in green, and it will be difficult for the duo to be successful given the tools they have on offer.

From Marco van Basten to Diego Maradona, truly elite players have struggled to put their message across to players simply not capable of doing the things that they did during their illustrious careers.

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 didn't come around quick enough for O'Neill so he took the next best offer.

O'Neill showed that, like Trapattoni, he's a manager who has his favourites, and will play rigid, defensive football to churn out results. To be blunt, Trap without the pedigree.

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.