Roy Keane stunned English football by walking out on Sunderland last December. Losing five of their previous six games, and despite securing a historic victory over derby rivals Newcastle United at home, Keane decided to call it a day with the Black Cats.
He left Sunderland in 18th position. The media instantly jumped on his back. He was heavily criticised for turning his back on the club, in their time of need. Comparisons were obviously drawn between Saipan and Sunderland.
Keane famously was booted out – or stormed out (depending on which side of the fence you sit on) – of the Irish World Cup squad in 2002. Seen as a temperamental character, for many it came as no surprise to see Keane, once again, throwing in the towel.
However the criticism was unfair. Had Keane decided to continue as the Black Cats boss, he could have weathered the storm, and steered the team out of the relegation zone. We are talking about a man famous for his drive for success. You don’t become one of Manchester United’s greatest ever captains by being a bottler.
But Keane no longer felt he was the right man for Sunderland. Whether or not he was correct or incorrect in thinking this, he quit. It highlights the weight of expectation Keane puts on himself. A man unafraid to be brutally honest with others.
His time at Sunderland: a success or failure? Undoubtedly a success. He led a team languishing in 23rd place to the Championship title. He managed to solidify his squad and Sunderland’s Premiership status the following season.
He had money to spend at Sunderland. In two and a half years he spent more than Ã‚Â£80m on over 39 signings. He tried to bring in too many faces too fast. Also questions must be raised over the success he had in the transfer market. Many players turned out to be flops. With the exception of Johnny Evans, Andy Reid, Kieran Richardson and Kenwenye Jones most were poor at best.
However Keane will have undoubtedly had time to reflect on the mistakes he made, after all we have to remember, it was his baptism into football management. At the age of 35 he managed one of the biggest clubs in the North East and frankly did a good job.
Ipswich Town a club that enjoyed a successful spell in the 1970’s and early 80’s under football legend, Bobby Robson. A club yearning to return to the Premiership, Keane will have a challenge on his hands to motivate the often inconsistent ‘Tractor boys’ to perform week in week out in the Championship.
Ipswich, certainly, has the potential, the financial backing, the stadium, and support to make a return to the top flight. Manager Roy Keane is young and ambitious. I wouldn’t be surprised, to see Ipswich Town back in the Premier League come 2010/11.
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