What was the real reason for Roy Keane to exit the Stadium of Light? I don’t suppose we will ever find out the real truth as Roy Keane is unlikely to say and Niall Quinn is a man of dignity who keeps things in house, that’s assuming that Quinn himself even knows.
The whole aura around Keane is a fascinating one, here was a man prepared to share his views with the press on his own managerial capabilities, other managers and the quality and attitude of his and other players, a press mans delight, someone prepared to tell it as it is rather than giving you the usual media trained straight bat answers we’re so used to getting. Then you get the other Keane, the one not prepared to share any views with anyone, the Keane that no one really knows – some of his former Republic of Ireland team mates including Andy Townsend and Tony Cascarino who played with him for 6, 7, 8 years claim not to know the man at all – the Keane we seen after walking out of the 2002 world cup walking his dog talking to no one (apart from threatening people who dared step foot on his property), the almost reclusive Keane.
What really caused this man to walk away? Surely it wasn’t the Sunderland fans who scandalously booed him after the Carling Cup defeat to Blackburn – remember where you were when he first took over. Is it any coincidence that Steve Walton was appointed new Chief Executive just days earlier that he left? Surely the fact that Walton is not due to take up this post until next March would have persuaded Keane not to walk immediately if there was any problem between the two men.
Now that Ellis Short is a major shareholder – who by common consensus is a business man as opposed to a football man – did he and the board start to interfere or start to let it be known they where not satisfied with the current situation?
Could it be the reaction – or lack off – from his players after last weekends defeat to Bolton, did they seem bothered by the manner of the defeat, did they show a reaction in training on monday morning? Keane always talked about hard work in his press conferences, about his frustration with players who where prepared to put money first – players who where content to sit idle at Sunderland picking up good wages rather than take a wage cut and get a move to another club showing some ambition to play football every week.
One criticism that could be had of Keane is that his record in the transfer market is not the greatest. He is estimated to have spent around 80 million in his time at the club. Whilst I don’t think the squad is that bad there are some signings that don’t add up. Stokes and Chopra both big money signings who didn’t really hit the heights expected, while El-Hadji Diouf and Pascal Chimbonda could hardly have been great for the dressing room morale. On a brighter note Kieran Richardson – who seemed slightly overpriced at the time – and Kenwyne Jones have both excelled and Andy Reid seems to be a revitalised player.
For those who say he turned and had it away on his heels at the first sign of trouble it is hard to argue, I don’t really agree with that though. I think this is a man who looked at the situation and was brutally honest with himself and saw shortcomings in his own managerial ability, but surely the only way for him to have overcome these misgivings would have been to tackle them head on as we are so used to seeing from Keane, give it his best shot, never surrender until the last battle is lost. I for one am disappointed to see him go as I think he could have done good things for sunderland if only he had given himself the chance to achieve them.