Sunderland 0 Wigan Athletic 3: 'Ashamed' Keane hits nadir

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The Independent Football

Roy Keane's lowest point as a manager, this. Considering Keane has seen Sunderland lose 3-0 at Luton in the League Cup, 3-0 at Wigan in the Premier League, 7-1 at Everton and 4-0 at home to Manchester United, that is quite a claim.

But after none of those defeats did Keane come out afterwards to say he was "ashamed", as he did on Saturday. What he does about it is now the question.

Because this, as the above results and the other nine League defeats show, was not a blip. This was look-away bad and the concern for Keane, Niall Quinn and the investors from the Drumaville consortium, is that if not rectified instantly and convincingly then it might just be turning-point bad for supporters.

Sunderland host Portsmouth on Sunday and a home victory is a necessity not just in terms of survival but also for morale.

Pompey, however, have won seven of their 11 away games, which was one reason why Sunderland needed to win this. The squad requires all the confidence it can get and yet Sunderland were brushed aside by an understrength Wigan.

The goals from Paul Scharner, Paul McShane (own goal) and David Cotterill were all examples of the chronic defending that has undermined Sunderland's season and which will see them relegated if it is not changed. "The players will be disappointed," Keane said. "But sole responsibility lies on my shoulders, 100 per cent. I picked the team here and there are a lot I brought here."

Ten of the 16-man squad, in fact. Drumaville have funded that but Keane does not speak often to them, he said. "I speak to Niall the odd time. The results are not good enough. There have been too many occasions like this. We have played Wigan twice and we have lost 6-0. There's not too much between the two teams. But we have lost 6-0. I'm not doing my job. Eventually time runs out on everybody. How many times will Sunderland fans hear me say that?"

With the returning Nyron Nosworthy saying: "It felt like a testimonial game, it wasn't taken seriously enough," Wigan won with much to spare. They return in the League next month and Steve Bruce has physical evidence to prove his players' superiority. The match programme featured a remarkably ginger picture of Bruce as a young Gillingham player. But he and his players had the last laugh, the only laugh.

Goals: Scharner (19) 0-1; McShane og (56) 0-2; Cotterill (76) 0-3.

Sunderland (4-4-2): Gordon; Nosworthy, McShane, Evans, Collins; O'Donovan, Whitehead (Cole, 58), Kavanagh, Richardson (Connolly, 74); Waghorn (Leadbitter, 58) Murphy. Substitutes not used: Fulop (gk), Anderson.

Wigan Athletic (4-4-2): Pollitt; Boyce, Scharner, Granqvist, Kilbane; Taylor (Cotterill, 15) Skoko, Olembe, Koumas; Heskey (Brown, 72) Sibierski (Aghahowa, 42). Substitutes not used: Kirkland (gk), Valencia.

Referee: M Riley (West Yorkshire).

Man of the match: Scharner.

Attendance: 20,821.

Call from Capello?

Emile Heskey (Wigan)

Quiet, but not alone in that in a nothing game. Did little wrong but will have greater tests in which to be assessed.

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