Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert has saluted the benefits of Roy Keane and revealed his assistant is not always the serious man many believe him to be.
The former Manchester United midfielder was working as a pundit for ITV, alongside his role as the Republic of Ireland's assistant manager, before heading to Villa Park in July and replacing the sacked Ian Culverhouse.
With Villa sitting in second spot in the Premier League having amassed an impressive 10 points in four games, they host Arsenal on Saturday and on his No.2 Lambert said: "The two of us are really strong characters.
"I knew he had a lot of football knowledge that was unfairly tarnished. His knowledge meant he was too good to be a TV pundit. To get him back in the game was great. I love working with him, we have a laugh.
"Not everything is serious. I beat him at the crossbar challenge nearly every day. When I was thinking about people to bring in, I know it probably raised a few eyebrows, 'How's that going to work?' Nobody sees the logic in it. I just knew in my gut it would work. Alright, there will be times when we don't win games but we'll never break anything.
"He's been great around the place, with the staff and the lads. He likes a laugh as well. I don't think he's the big bad guy out there that. He's somebody I know I can rely on.
"I never had any doubts. He was the first port of call when I knew I had to get somebody in."
Lambert's men could be top of the league on Saturday if they beat the Gunners, with leaders Chelsea not playing Manchester City until Sunday.
Keane had his own battles with Arsenal as a United player, memorably squaring up to Patrick Vieira in the Highbury tunnel but Lambert said Keane's winning-mentality shone through.
"The Arsenal tunnel was pretty small at that time wasn't it, there was no hiding place," he added.
"If you look at his football career he is probably the best midfielder to come out of this country. There is no getting away from that. He was a winner and you make no apologies for being a winner."