With the team struggling to score goals, the decision to let Robbie Keane leave Ireland’s coaching staff has been discussed.
In terms of the Nations League, only one team has a poorer goalscoring record than the Republic of Ireland, San Marino. How we could do with a goalscorer of Robbie Keane’s quality.
At present, the minnows are yet to score a goal in both iterations of the tournament. However, Ireland aren’t much better because in two editions of the tournament, the boys in green have only scored twice – Shane Duffy’s header in Bulgaria and Shaun Williams’ goal against Wales.
While any country would struggle without the goals of Robbie Keane, his absence is even more noticeable now during this goal drought for Ireland.
However, it must be stated that Keane’s last competitive game in a green jersey was against Oman in August 2016.
After hanging up his boots, the former Spurs, Leeds, and Liverpool striker has been busy coaching and Keane was on the staff for Mick McCarthy’s second spell in charge last year, but he was not kept on by Kenny.
As Champagne Football revealed, John Delaney gave Robbie Keane a four-year contract as Ireland assistant with a salary that rose to €250,000 per year. Delaney’s idea was that Ireland’s leading goalscorer would also be Stephen Kenny’s assistant when he took over in August 2020, with a view to Keane being groomed as an eventual Ireland manager.
However, Kenny’s contract gave him clear authority to appoint his own backroom team. In April, Kenny appointed Damien Duff and Keith Andrews as his assistants.
By the time that Kenny took control of the senior team, Delaney was no longer in charge and Robbie Keane’s future was left in limbo. Ultimately, Ireland’s all-time record goalscorer left the coaching staff.
However, in an interview with Off The Ball, Richard Dunne believes that Robbie Keane could still play a vital role in Ireland’s future.
“It comes down to game intelligence really. Centre-forwards want to score goals and if they get into the box, their first thought is to shoot. It’s just having that awareness I suppose to almost sense people in better positions, rather than see them. You sort of go back and we had someone there who can teach people this, but he’s not involved.
“So, it’s something I think that the FAI really should have worked on – trying to make sure that you’ve got someone with the intelligence and game knowledge of Robbie Keane within the setup,” said Dunne.
When asked if Damien Duff could provide this important coaching role, the former Man City and Everton defender wasn’t so sure.
“Possibly, but he’s a left-winger and any wingers would be desperate to hear what Damien has to say, but Damien will tell you himself, he didn’t score 50 goals for Ireland. It would be like me answering that, I can’t tell a centre-forward how to make the moves that Robbie Keane can. That’s the thing, he’s there so why didn’t they use him,” said Dunne.
At this point, host Joe Molloy pointed out that it’s important to back the manager and buy into his vision, something that Dunne agreed with. However, the legendary Irish defender still feels that Keane could make a significant contribution towards solving Ireland’s goalscoring problems.
“Absolutely, 100%. You have to back the manager, whatever he does. I’m just saying that there is that option that he is there and available. Within our squad, the main problem is scoring goals and you have somebody that can probably help out. Obviously, the manager wants to go a different way and that’s grand, but that option is there,” he said.
You can view Dunne’s comments in full below.