Keane faces 'biggest test yet' as signs of disquiet emerge

With pressure rising on Wearside following last Saturday's FA Cup débâcle against Wigan Athletic, and with his management style coming under scrutiny for the first time, Roy Keane acknowledged yesterday that Sunderland need a win at home to Portsmouth tomorrow to "get people back on side". Keane was talking of Sunderland fans, though internally he repeated that "being popular is not what I'm in the game for".

Keane has just had arguably his most difficult week in his 18 months as a manager. There have as yet been no new signings post-Wigan and one target, Robbie Savage, joined Derby County instead. There has been the criticism of Keane from fringe player Clive Clarke and a broad sense that the Sunderland public requires convincing that this team possess the qualities to stay up.

"We have lost a hell of a lot of games and our supporters have been quite patient," Keane said. "But we used a lot of that up last weekend. We have been OK at home, so last week caught us a bit and we owe them a performance on Sunday, no doubt about that.

"I suppose it's one of my first real tests. We had disappointments, like the Luton game, obviously Everton and Manchester United at home. But I do believe we will see the real Sunderland. At home we have played with energy, spirit and quality but we didn't have any of that last week."

Keane is still trying to buy the Portsmouth midfielder Matthew Taylor – and Reading's Stephen Hunt – but no new signing is anticipated before early next week. "We are not just going to keep throwing money after money just to try and satisfy certain people out there," he said. "We've got to do the right thing for the club and bring in the right player with the right character."

One criticism of Keane is of his other purchases and there is recognition that Greg Halford, bought for £2.5m from Reading in the summer, has not worked out. He is up for sale, as are Ross Wallace, David Connolly, Graham Kavanagh and Ian Harte, all brought to the club by Keane. Stephen Wright, who was bought by Peter Reid, is another for whom Sunderland will accept offers.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor