Michael Farrow's sports blog

A collection of new and old writings

…on Roy Keane, manager

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Roy Keane as Sunderland manager

Keano should have considered a handlebar moustache as a serious fashion option

The press have been waiting for it since he joined Sunderland; the moment Roy Keane would walk out on the Black Cats. They’ve called him a time bomb and an accident waiting to happen which was possibly a self-fulfilling prophecy. Look at it however you like but he’s not covered himself in glory – that is for sure.

I often wonder if I oversimplify football. In my opinion, Roy Keane’s proved to be the Emperor’s New Clothes as a manager. For all the gushing over his motivational abilities and his strict disciplinary standards, it was still the chequebook which saw him get promotion. Spending big money for the Championship on nine permanent signings and bringing in two top young loan signings, it was less about what he did than who he bought. Put that on top of a squad which wasn’t nearly as bad as was made out and he scared them into the top division.

It seems the longer he was a manager, the more the aura of the great player faded. He was an unknown quantity as a manager when he first arrived but the growling, nasty persona wore thin for some. He spent more money in the summer of 2007, paying out big money on Kenwyne Jones, Kieran Richardson and Michael Chopra amongst others, the latter of whom was plainly not good enough. Struggling throughout the season and with new corporate paymasters, he spent big again this summer. It hasn’t worked out and the excuse that he needed to build three teams – one to get up, one to stay up and one to get to mid-table – just do not wash, especially given the team sits 18th in the division.

When other managers get promoted with less money and a worse squad, stay up with less money and a worse squad and then consolidate with less money, I think it shows Keane up as being pretty poor. This “building three teams” thing itself is a symptom of the problem. Look at Reading. Pretty much the same team got them up and kept them up. Had Steve Coppell received even a quarter of the 70m that Keane got, Reading would not only still be in the Premier League but they’d be sitting pretty. Keane looked very much out of his depth and Sunderland cannot afford relegation having spent so much. The tricks which worked the first season are long gone. You can’t scare the hell out of the players after you’ve been exposed as incompetent. “You’ve been shit, Danny”, “Yeah boss but you signed Rocky Chopra for 5m.”

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Written by Michael Farrow

December 4, 2008 at 8:22 pm

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