Sunderland push Keane closer to breaking point

Peter Bills
Monday 10 November 2008 11:43

Three wins from 12 games, tens of millions of pounds spent over the last 18 months and expectations apparently as far from being met as ever before. The skies above Sunderland’s Stadium of Light are grey and getting darker.

Just when you think you spy a little brightness, such as Sunderland’s derby win over Newcastle a few weeks ago, then the team slips back. A pathetic 5-0 hammering at Chelsea and now a 1-2 home reverse by Portsmouth, giving Tony Adams his first win as manager of the south coast club. Their slide into the Premiership relegation zone will alarm the club’s owners.

But it isn’t just all that which makes you wonder whether we’ll wake up one morning and read that Roy Keane has quit. Nor is it the money; after all, the Sunderland manager has surely made enough during his long, triumphant playing career to be comfortable for the rest of his days.

No, it’s something else that makes me uncertain about Keane and his future. He’s always been his own man, always been prepared to follow his instincts and do what he believes in. If he isn’t convinced by something, he’ll walk away without a second thought, never mind the money. That’s the way it is with this singular man.

And right now, you begin to think that Roy Keane is seriously disillusioned with a lot in football and a great many footballers. Not too many weeks go by when he isn’t raging at something in the game. Last week, he was launching fusillades of criticism at the pundits on Sky Sport television, claiming they didn’t know what they were talking about and warning that these doubtful views and opinions were infecting the whole game and certainly the watching public.

His words sounded like a man growing increasingly weary of the whole circus that rumbles on, long week after long week.

Keane’s mood cannot have been helped by the sight of his team losing to a penalty in the last minute at home to Portsmouth. That’s now three defeats in six home games, which looks like relegation form.

No matter whom Keane buys, no matter how much money he splashes each summer, Sunderland cling determinedly to the danger zone of the Premiership. And for a man always used to plying his trade at the other end of the table, someone who demanded nothing but victories and trophies through unending hard work and commitment, you just wonder if Keane is starting to feel disillusioned with this whole managerial lark?

Like his former boss Sir Alex Ferguson, he has never suffered fools gladly and for sure, there are plenty of oafs in and around the Premiership.

Time will tell but one thing is for sure. If he does quit management, it is unlikely Roy Keane will take up a new job as a Sky Sports pundit.

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