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Roy Keane not immune from criticism

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roy keaneTime for the hero worship to stop

Right, so Sunderland lost at home to Manchester United, what sort of headline were we expecting? Red Devils slip up at Sunderland? No, I suspect not.

So the defeat was expected, yet it should not be so, the expectations should be that opponents come to the Stadium of Light and have to fight tooth and nail to get a point from us, they should expect to be barracked, bayed, and disabused by a hostile home crowd determined to halt them in their steps. Yet these things do not happen on Wearside any longer, opponents get welcomed, their footballing skills are applauded, even their fans are clapped from time to time. The whole atmosphere at The Stadium of Light has moved on from one of a cacophony of noise and fearfulness to one of acquiescence and timidity, the giant is once more going back to sleep!

Other clubs at the foot of the Premiership table have already taken “corrective” action ahead of the opening of the January transfer window, those responsible for their demise have been removed, but this will not happen at Sunderland. Roy Keane is a very fortunate man indeed, his Irish benefactors (and many fans) are still in awe of his reputation as a player, adulation and hero worship persist, and his position appears to be secure. However, having wasted the neck end of £35m on players who have not added to the quality of the team and amassed fewer points at this stage of the season than the season than the 19 point record setter, one would have to question whether the hero worship is justified.

In my view no more than two players signed by Roy Keane have had a positive impact on our ability to weather the storms of the Premiership (and one of those has had no luck at all with injuries). Kenwynne Jones and Carlos Edwards stand out as successful additions, as for the rest, they would struggle to perform near the top end of next year’s ambitions – the Coca Cola Championship.

Keane has continued to shuffle his hand, never yet finding a strong eleven, never yet finding a consistent basis to take the club forward, forever tinkering with 4-4-2 or 4-5-1, even at home. Players continue to be played out of position, strikers such as Murphy, Stokes, and Chopra being used as wide men, last year’s leading goalscorer has never found his name on a team sheet, and the most dynamic midfielder that we possess is used as a right back!

Sure, there has been some poor luck with injuries to Edwards and Richardson, then there have been the refereeing decisions, but these things happen at all major clubs, the major difference being that others have the necessary quality and strength in depth to be able to cope with the downs as well as the ups – at Sunderland we do not. The blame for this must be laid firmly and fairly at the manager’s door. Next week he will be given more cash to squander, and we wait to see if his scouting team have found some long lost prowess in discovering real talent and ability to contribute. Trouble is, the team now sits at the foot of the table with Derby County, and surely it must be extremely difficult to persuade players to come and join in a relegation battle, how do you sell the club to them? “We’d like you to come and help us win promotion to the Premiership next year” is going to look like a feeble pitch.

I am sorry, but I am gradually becoming one of a growing band of Keane’s detractors, however, I have no doubt that one day he will be a great success as a manager of a major club, it just hurts that he should have to do his managerial schooling at Sunderland, that we should feel the weight of his feet on our backs as he struggles to climb past this rung at the foot of the ladder. At the time of his arrival hopes were high, he managed to win the Championship in his first season, but at this new level, even he would admit that he is a rookie struggling to win the battles in his own mind, and struggling to make an impact with his own career. Another worry that I have about Keane is the apparent lack of passion for the job or the club, at the Academy of Light you will rarely find him screaming exhortations to the players, neither will you see him bouncing up and down shouting his head off in the technical area during Premiership matches, his news conferences and interviews almost send you to sleep, and I feel like shouting at him, telling him to wake up and smell the coffee!

Unless he can find a winning formula before the end of January, the newspapers will once again, with justification, write us off as a “yo-yo” club, the eyes will close, the heads will drop, and this once great giant will succumb to slumbers.

Yes, I’m being pessimistic, or even realistic!

One positive point to come from yesterday’s defeat was the useful of debut of South Shields’ Martyn Waghorn who played up front alongside Jones in the first half. The 17 year old was busy, strong, and energetic, the former Harton Technology College striker was then moved out wide (inexplicably) where he was less effective and faded out of the game.

Greg Halford

We could do with some much needed clarification from Sunderland AFC on the position of Greg Halford. The giant full back has not featured in the last couple of games and rumours circulating around the Stadium of Light yesterday suggest that he will never pull on a red and white shirt again! Has he reached a position where he and the club amicably agree to go their own separate ways? Will he ever step over that “white line” at The Stadium of Light in future (other than from an opponent’s dressing room)?

The club needs to make a statement to make clear the player’s position and to stop the rumour mill from spinning out of control.


Written by curly

December 27, 2007 at 10:03 am

One Response

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  1. You have forgetten the 15 point season……


    December 28, 2007 at 3:40 pm

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