33 serious applicants for Keane job

Quinn will whittle 'shortlist' down to three with Sunderland open-minded about stopgap appointment
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Sunderland have already had 33 "serious applicants" for the manager's post vacated by Roy Keane on Thursday and more are anticipated in the coming days as the Wearsiders get down to the business of appointing the Irishman's successor.

According to senior figures at Sunderland, there is no rush to complete the process by Saturday's home game with West Bromwich Albion but the hierarchy, led by the chairman Niall Quinn, will wish to draw up a shortlist of three as soon as possible. Quinn and his colleagues were yesterday diverted by a report from Sweden that said a close advisor of Ellis Short, Sunderland's new leading shareholder, had made critical comments about Keane and his management style.

Per-Magnus Andersson is president of Kitano Capital, the vehicle used by Short last summer to acquire a significant stake from the club's Irish owners, the Drumaville consortium. Andersson called Keane a "maverick" with a "pit-bull mentality" towards his players. The report caused enough irritation behind the scenes for the US-based Short to issue his first public statement since joining the board.

"The comments reported in a newspaper do not represent me, Drumaville or the board," Short said. "For the record, I have nothing but admiration for Roy and am grateful for all he's done for the club and and I wish him well for the future. With regards to the future, Niall and his executive board are the only people authorised to speak on behalf of the club, and they alone will be responsible for identifying a successor to Roy in due course."

There has been interest from "round the globe", Quinn said. Sunderland would prefer a long-term appointment but are "open-minded" about an interim manager. Tony Loughlan has not left the club but was not on duty with the first team yesterday.

Sir Alex Ferguson had words of comfort for Keane in his programme notes before yesterday's match at Old Trafford. "How sorry we are that Roy Keane's career with them [Sunderland] as manager has come to an end," he said. "[We] should have seen yet another United old boy coming back to lock horns with his old boss. First there was Paul Ince, then Mark Hughes, then Roy. Some of them have had a hard time. I did warn them but, like me, the game is in their blood."