Saturday 22 October 2016

FAI give added time to Martin and Roy

New contract for O'Neill, Keane and backroom in keeping with odd week

Martin O'Neill
Martin O'Neill

Well nobody saw that coming. After a week of, it must be said, bizarre preparations for a football tournament, Martin O'Neill has signed a new two-year deal.

What should have been a grand announcement emerged in a very short burst of digital packages on Twitter and that, as they say, was that from FAI HQ in Abbotstown.

Hard to understand why now unless the original plan was to send the squad off to France with good news ringing in their collective ear.

O'Neill and Keane's indiscretions perhaps overtook the schedule. This is not a bad way of taking the sting out of recent bad press.

The timing is strange but in keeping with a very odd week indeed.

On Sunday, O'Neill said that he had another job in him and it didn't seem as if he was talking about Ireland.


Of course, the fact that O'Neill and Keane have both signed will not end speculation.

How could it when O'Neill himself seemed to encourage it in Sunday's article?

But at least now the FAI can play hardball and look for compensation if a club comes along and makes O'Neill or Keane a serious offer.

On Monday, O'Neill looked like a man in a state of some mental agitation before and during his apology to the LGBT community.

Yesterday before the O'Neill announcement, Roy Keane was speaking about apologies and therapy.

After agreeing that he stepped over the line in his criticism of Aiden McGeady among others, he eased back from complete contrition.

"I'm not going to sit here and talk about things I said and regret. No. You're not therapists to me. This is to do with my own conscience," he said,

For a career psychological therapist, the idea that you who might one day find yourself sitting in an armchair with Keane stretched out on a couch pouring forth would be challenging.

Ordinary football journalists are certainly not equipped to look deep into anyone's soul unless he is hiding a muscle strain or fancies a move to a new club.

Then we can wax lyrical about all sorts of scenarios and consequences.

Yesterday, Keane fessed up and to anyone without the required years in university studying the mysteries of the mind, it seemed pretty real.

Like O'Neill before him, he put his hands up and said he was sorry for stepping out of line.

"When I've been a manager before or a player or a coach at this level - and I've done it many times at club level - if I think I've gone over the top on certain things I will speak to people and I will apologise," he said.

So at least we have that straight now. The issues of the last week were caused by the Ireland management team.

This is still very relevant because we now know that Keane might be with us for the next two years. He crossed the line once and he cannot ever do that again publicly.

To be fair to Keane, he was straight and to the point about the criticism he ladled over McGeady.

He accepted that there is a line and he crossed it and that is very good news indeed for Ireland's Euro 2016 chances.

If he had reared up and allowed his mind to lose control, he might have rejected any request to apologise and stormed out of the Irish camp.

But he's still with us and he's smiling again, if a tad sheepishly at the start.

"My job is to motivate players, to push people and try and get them to another level. That will never change. I'm sick of saying it but I have been

"Sometimes you get messages out here and you try to find different ways to motivate people. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. People on the outside might take it up the wrong way.

"If I feel I have crossed that line with anything - it doesn't have to be in football, it can be away from football - then you have a word with people. It happens all the time. It certainly happens when you are married to somebody. I'm sure everyone can identify with that.

"It''s an emotional game and sometimes you say things. You're upset by a performance or a result and I have no problem criticising somebody as a group but I suppose, not that I named it but there were names thrown at me at the press conference.

"You can't be having cheap shots either. There's a big difference. And I know that as well as anybody," he said.

The message after that was move on and within a few hours, we learned that we will all be moving on together for the next two years.

Whether O'Neill is the right man to take the team on or Keane the right man to have with him will become clearer on Monday.

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