Keane on brink of walking away

Sunderland manager ponders future but club’s hierarchy may act first as ‘Stadium of Plight’ sinks further into mire
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The Independent Football

Roy Keane's future at Sunderland is in the balance this morning. The possibility of the Irishman walking out two years and three months after accepting the job is real, as Keane hinted yesterday following Sunderland's dismal 4-1 capitulation to Bolton Wanderers at what is fast becoming a Stadium of Plight, write Simon Turnbull and Michael Walker.

"I ask myself every single day: 'Am I the right man for Sunderland?'" Keane said after his side plunged into the bottom three of the Premier League. "I asked myself this morning and the answer was 'yes'. I'll ask myself tomorrow morning and if the answer is 'no', we'll have a look at it. And I will have to be honest in my assessment."

Sunderland will also have to be honest. That means there is the possibility of Keane's dismissal or of a mutually agreed separation because the club's hierarchy, headed by chairman Niall Quinn and leading shareholder Ellis Short, have to put the interests of the club before those of the manager. Keane admitted as much when he said: "It's not what's best for Roy Keane or Danny Collins or Dean Whitehead [the two players who provoked most of the ire of the fans] or Niall Quinn. It's what's best for Sunderland Football Club."

They have lost six of their last seven games, including the last four at home. Yesterday was Keane's 100th game in charge but Sunderland were poor again and were booed off. He knows that losing games is not sustainable. Relegation is nothing like an impossibility."I'm the manager of the football club and ultimately I'm responsible," Keane said. "I've never shied away from that. That's part of being a manager. That's why I will, and have to take, full responsibility for today – and I will in terms of the run we're on and everything else. As manager I have no excuses, absolutely none."

What is certain is that the offer of a new contract to Keane is on hold. "Forget about contract talks," Keane said. "If I wake up tomorrow I might feel the right man. On Monday it might be different." No football club can operate with such uncertainty surrounding the principal employee.

Next Saturday, Sunderland are at Old Trafford. On yesterday's evidence, it promises not just to be a 101st game in charge for Keane but Room 101 for the Manchester United icon.