Fergie hails ‘terrific’ appointment of Martin O’Neill and Roy Keane for Ireland 6 years ago

Fergie hails ‘terrific’ appointment of Martin O’Neill and Roy Keane for Ireland

The MonKeano partnership has been given the Alex Ferguson seal of approval after the former Manchester United manager hailed it as a “terrific” appointment for Ireland.

Ferguson was in Dublin last night for a live audience in association with Eason's to promote his recently published autobiography at the Convention Centre, where, for around an hour and a half, host Eamonn Holmes quizzed him about a number of subjects from his life in football, his Glasgow background and what it was like to manage one of the biggest clubs in the world for over a quarter of a century.

As a personal friend of Ferguson’s and as a huge Manchester United supporter himself, Holmes took a fairly softly-softly approach to his line of questioning and the guest of honour had the audience eating out of the palm of his hand, but it was still a very interesting discussion, with Ferguson offering a lot of insights into his life in management and providing plenty of funny anecdotes about the people he's worked with over the years.

Given what’s happened in the last week, however, everyone wanted to know what Fergie thought of the appointment of Martin O’Neill and, more pertinently, Roy Keane to the Irish managerial ticket.

Ferguson, who expressed admiration for previous manager Giovanni Trapattoni, was fulsome in his praise of O’Neill and described it as a “terrific appointment” for Ireland.

“He’s had fantastic success,” Ferguson said.

“He got to a European final with Celtic and won three league titles in Scotland at a time when Rangers were very strong as well; he has fantastic experience and a great personality.”

Many felt that Keane was treated particularly harshly by his old boss in his book and certainly, he had questioned Keane’s managerial credentials with a fairly damning put-down in his book.

No doubt aware of his audience last night, Ferguson was nowhere near as critical of Keane and described him as a “fantastic captain” and an “unbelievable player” who was up there with the best to have ever played for Manchester United.

His account of the breakdown of their relationship was pretty similar to what is in the book, as he detailed the row over conditions at a pre-season camp in Portugal in 2005 and the infamous MUTV appearance when he criticised a number of then team-mates, at which point Ferguson said there was “no way back”.

Ferguson added that “no-one helped him (Keane) more than Alex Ferguson” during his time as Sunderland manager, re-iterating the fact that Ferguson gave him three players on loan – Phil Bardsley, Jonny Evans and Danny Simpson – while he was boss on Wearside.

Having suggested that Keane was too quick to spend money and not a great builder of teams in his book, Ferguson had far more encouraging things to say about Keane’s managerial career last night and suggested that working under someone like O’Neill can only be a good thing for his future prospects.

“Roy was young when he got into management, he went straight from playing into management but now he’ll be able to lean on the experience of Martin O’Neill and learn from it and will be better prepared if and when he does get back into club management.”

Ferguson rounded off by repeating that getting O’Neill and Keane on board was a “terrific appointment” and said that Ireland have a “great chance of qualification” for the 2016 European Championships now that the tournament has expanded to 24 participating teams.