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Ray Houghton: Roy Keane not expecting equal billing with Martin O'Neill

Updated: Wednesday, 06 Nov 2013 18:58 | Comments

Ray Houghton: 'Martin will be the number one and Roy will do everything in his power to help him.'
Ray Houghton: 'Martin will be the number one and Roy will do everything in his power to help him.'

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Ray Houghton insists Roy Keane is not expecting equal billing alongside Martin O'Neill when the duo take charge of the Republic of Ireland.

The Football Association of Ireland on Tuesday night confirmed O'Neill as the man to lead them into the Euro 2016 qualification campaign, with the forceful presence of Keane installed as his number two.

The strong-willed Keane has been a force for both good and bad for Ireland in the past, with his infamous falling-out with management at the 2002 World Cup.

Keane's return to the fold has given way to inevitable speculation over his likely influence on the dressing room, but Houghton, who was part of the team tasked by the FAI with searching for a new manager, has no concerns.

The former Ireland midfielder spoke at length with Keane during the negotiations and told Sky Sports News: "His enthusiasm, his knowledge, what he thought the Irish team could do was hugely surprising to me. He was very, very good.

"He knows what he wants, where he wants to take them alongside Martin. He knows his position: Martin will be the manager; Roy will assist Martin. So there's no grey area there - it's not like Roy's going to be on a level term.

"Martin will be the number one and Roy will do everything in his power to help him.

"It could be a good learning curve for Roy."

Asked about Keane's past strained relations with the FAI board, Houghton said: "I don't think that's going to be a problem. It took 30 seconds to put everything out the way and now it's down to business.

"It could be a good learning curve for Roy." - Houghton

"We have to leave the past in the past. We can't do anything about it. We can't change the past, what we can change is the future.

"For Irish football, it shows we're going in the right direction. It's exciting times. The next couple of years should be very, very good."

Former Ireland international Niall Quinn agrees that Keane will not become disruptive to O'Neill's plans.

"I'm not worried that he's going to want to say different things to Martin O'Neill, I think I'm more looking forward to him getting out there, bringing his presence," the former Arsenal, Manchester City and Sunderland striker told Sky Sports.

"It's great news for Ireland. People have had opinions about Roy and Martin for many years and we can sit back now and watch over the next couple of years and hopefully it will be a very exciting time."

Former Ireland goalkeeper Shay Given also welcomed the double appointment, writing on Twitter: "Good luck to Martin O'Neill & Roy Keane in new jobs @FAIreland lots of different opinions but all that matters is we qualify for the euros"

Current players have also had their say on Twitter.

Hull midfielder David Meyler wrote on his account: "Delighted Martin O'Neill and Roy Keane have taken over. Exciting times ahead for Irish Football!"

Sean St Ledger, the Leicester defender, wrote: "Exciting times for Irish football with the appointment of Martin o Neill and Roy Keane!"

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