(Reuters) - The Football Association of Ireland (FAI) is set to announce Martin O‘Neill and Roy Keane as their new management team following the departure of Giovanni Trapattoni, local media reported.
The Irish Times newspaper said the appointment was approved at an informal board meeting that was held after the FAI cup final in Dublin on Sunday.
It comes following an unsuccessful World Cup qualifying campaign that saw Italian Trapattoni depart as his side finished in fourth place in Group C behind Germany, Sweden and Austria.
After a dismal performance at the Euro 2012 finals in Poland when they lost all three group games, Trapattoni was widely criticized for his negative tactics and his communications skills with players and the media were often questioned during his five-year tenure.
A popular choice among fans, Northern Irishman O‘Neill made his name as a player under Brian Clough at Nottingham Forest and has a proven managerial track record at Celtic and in the Premier League with Aston Villa.
But it is the possibility of the appointment of former Manchester United captain Keane - another Clough protégé and one of the most divisive figures in Irish soccer - that is most intriguing.
The fiery midfielder threw the national team into chaos when he railed against what he perceived to be amateurish preparations for the 2002 World Cup in Japan and South Korea.
Keane’s withering evaluation of then-manager Mick McCarthy and of the FAI in general saw him leave the camp on the eve of the tournament, and few would have seen the possibility of a return as part of the management team for one of the association’s biggest critics.
Having retired as a player in 2006, Keane went on to manage at Sunderland and Ipswich Town and currently works as a pundit for the British ITV network, and he is expected to appear alongside O‘Neill on the station’s Champions League coverage on Tuesday.
Reports suggest that media mogul Dennis O‘Brien is set to continue to contribute financially to the cost of the management team, who are expected to take over in time for a friendly against Latvia in Dublin on November 15.
The combination of a respected, experienced manager and one of Ireland’s most decorated former players will be welcomed by many Irish fans, who have recently been starved of success.
But with both men renowned for their tough-talking personalities, it remains to be seen if they can keep their tempers in check with the players, the association and with each other.
Writing by Philip O'Connor; Editing by Justin Palmer