Sunderland defender George McCartney has claimed that his team-mates were not happy working for Roy Keane after their former manager spoke for the first time about why he left the club.
“Under Roy Keane the lads were probably a bit disheartened,” McCartney said. “He went about things a bit differently to Ricky Sbragia. Ricky has given us a lot of self-belief again.”
Keane left the Stadium of Light in December after arguments with Ellis Short, the club’s majority shareholder, and Niall Quinn, the chairman. Short wanted Keane to show his commitment to the club by moving his family from Cheshire to the North East, while Quinn was concerned that the players were not coming to work with a smile
“The day I walked into Sunderland, putting a smile on the faces of well-paid players was the last thing anybody wanted me to do,” Keane said. “If they wanted the players smiling all the time, they should have employed ‘Chubby’ Brown.”
“I went down to London to meet him twice,” Keane said of Short, a Texas-based Irish-American businessman. “I thought, hmm, the dynamics are changing here. He said he had read my book. I felt he was thinking from the start that I wasn’t for him. He sort of knew this wasn’t going to be a long-term relationship.”
When Sunderland slumped into a run of six defeats in seven games in October and November, Keane said he was called by Short after the last of them, the 4-1 home loss to Bolton. Keane admitted that he ignored Short’s calls and was then troubled by Short’s tone when they did speak the following day.
“It started with a demand to know where I had been the previous day, that he wanted me available at all times,” Keane said. “Then there were accusations about how often I came in, about moving my family up. And it was the tone. It didn’t upset me, what happened at Sunderland. It was a business decision.
“Even for me I suppose it was a business decision. I couldn’t give my heart and soul with this fella on my shoulder. That, I’m sure, is how he works.”
Keane criticised Alex Ferguson for comments that he made after he left the Stadium of Light. “My old manager says, ‘You never know what he is going to do next.’ What did he think I was going to do? Go backpacking in Mexico?”