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Roy Keane: I might surprise the Republic of Ireland players and be nice

The former Manchester United captain has taken up a role as assistant to Martin O'Neill

Roy Keane says he hopes the Republic of Ireland players are in for a "pleasant surprise" during his stint as assistant manager to Martin O'Neill, as he displayed a more amicable side of his personality in his first press conference ahead of tomorrow's friendly against Latvia.

There was a hint of the old intensity in an oblique reference to "lies" when asked about Sir Alex Ferguson's new book, but Keane insisted the day was "not for that". He acknowledged his public perception as a "monster", but claimed he may have to play "good cop" to O'Neill, who he jokingly said makes him look like "Mother Teresa".

"Strangely enough, if people are thinking that [I'm a monster] – particularly the players – I don't think that will be an issue with me and the players over the next few years because I'm not as bad as everyone makes me out to be in terms of criticising players.

"Demanding of players, of course, and hopefully that will never change," he said. "But this idea of being a bit softer with players – because obviously I'm not going to be the one dropping players or leaving players out – that might give me the opportunity to be nicer to players but without being a pal to them either.

"Hopefully the players are in for a pleasant surprise, particularly the lads who've not worked with me. I know people can believe what they hear and read and, if they're thinking for some reason that some monster's going to turn up and, all of a sudden, I'm quite placid and nice to them. Making sure they're training properly and pushing them in training, that'll never change."

Keane deflected questions about the criticism of him in his former manager's autobiography but added: "The issue I'll have is when anybody who seems to talk about me or has issues with what I've said in the past and people will just tells lies about me. That's when I'll come out and defend myself."