ROBBIE KEANE claims Jonathan Woodgate’s commitment to open, attacking football was one of the key factors behind him agreeing to become Middlesbrough’s new assistant manager.

Keane was confirmed as Woodgate’s number two last week, with the former striker combining his new role on Teesside with his duties as Mick McCarthy’s assistant with the Republic of Ireland.

The 38-year-old joins Leo Percovich and Danny Coyne on Boro’s new-look coaching team, and will help Woodgate try to introduce a new adventurous playing style.

The pair have already had a number of conversations about the philosophy they will follow, with their approach marking a marked departure from the style adopted by Tony Pulis last season.

“Woody has the same philosophy as me in how we like to play the game,” said Keane, who only announced his retirement from playing last November. “That’s attacking, vibrant football.

“Attacking football can start from the back, or with the midfield players. And of course the strikers, ultimately they’re goalscorers and they will be judged on scoring goals. Our job, as a coaching staff, is to give them the best opportunity to be able to do that.

“It’s up to the players ultimately to buy in to that, to work their socks off for the opportunities to play in the team, and when they do, to take their chances.”

In recent years, Middlesbrough’s coaching staff has been dominated by former defenders. Keane’s appointment affords the likes of Britt Assombalonga and Ashley Fletcher an opportunity to work with a proven international goalscorer, who spent almost two decades scoring goals at the highest level.

His appointment has been extremely well received amongst the Boro fans, although he will not be spending all of his time working with his squad’s forwards.

“Woody and I have spoken about it, and it’s not just going to be me working with the strikers,” said Keane. “I can help the defenders in terms of the movements I made and how to play against someone like myself.

“It’s vice versa with Woody and the forwards, and the type of forwards he didn’t like playing against. It’s about the whole team, the philosophy, and what we want to do.”

Keane first encountered Woodgate when the pair played together at Leeds United, and they were reunited later in their careers at Tottenham.

They have remained close friends since their early days at Elland Road, but Keane does not expect them to agree about everything in the next few weeks and months. Disagreements will be inevitable, with a healthy exchange of views crucial to the process of a developing a winning team.

“We’ve been friends for a long, long time,” said Keane, in an interview with Middlesbrough’s official website. “So to work alongside him, to help him out is something I’m really excited about.

“The main thing is the trust we have with each other. There will be times where we’ll disagree. He’ll pick the team, and I’ll think ‘Maybe we could do this better’. I think you have to have that open relationship, and we certainly have that.”

Keane is looking forward to meeting his new squad when pre-season training begins at the start of next month, and will be aiming to cultivate a positive mood at Rockliffe Park.

“Our job as coaches, we want the players coming in and enjoying themselves,” he said. “You’ll certainly get that from us, there’s no question about it. The positive energy on the training pitch and around the place.

“We want energy, energising people not energy-sappers ruining this great football club. It’s not just the players, it’s everybody around the club.”