Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 20 April 2014

Alan Green: Roy not Keane to tough it out

For the past week, there wasn't a morning I woke up without half-expecting to hear that Roy Keane had resigned from his post at the Stadium of Light.

There was no question that this was the first time in his managerial career- he'd been Sunderland boss for 27 months - that he faced turmoil. And it all came in a bit of a rush.

Only in October he and the team were basking in the relative glory of a derby win against Newcastle and a considerable draw against Arsenal.

But Sunderland have now lost six of their last seven games and the last four at the Stadium of Light.

Crowds are down and boos have been evident as final whistles sounded.

When he was appointed, I thought it could only go in one of two ways.

Either Keane would be a mammoth success - just as he was as a player - and put himself in line to succeed Sir Alex Ferguson at Old Trafford.

Or he'd quickly look in the mirror and decide ‘management' wasn't for him. After all, it's not as if he needs the money after such a brilliant playing career. What surprised me was that Keane himself was responsible for much of the speculation that engulfed him.

Why did he so publicly question his future?

Why did he say that he asked himself every day if he was the ‘right man'? Why was he taking all the blame for the team's recent poor form? It's daft.

It created a climate of fear and uncertainty around the manager and the club and it ran totally contrary to the huge support that he'd beengiven.

Which managers outside of Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United have been backed to the tune of £80 million?

What wouldn't a manager give to have a chairman like Niall Quinn? Remember, this is someone who generously pushed aside any past differences he had with Keane in order to put the club's interest first.

And Quinn tried desperately to talk his manager out of leaving.

Now, you might say that it was admirable for a manager to front up and take the blame but I'd argue that Keane was letting his players off the hook.

They're the ones that aren't performing. Why give them an excuse to hide behind? No-one really knows what goes on in Roy's mind, probably not even Roy himself.

It was that way in the years he was the most influential player for Manchester United and the Republic of Ireland and it's that way now.

But surely he needed to do the precise opposite of what he has done? He never cared about the plaudits he attracted as a player. Why listen to boos that would quickly have been silenced after a decent result or two?

He should have told the board, the players and the fans - the majority of whom are amongst the best in England - that this manager would be around for the tough times as well as the good times: unfortunately he didn't and now he won't.

Robbie Keane is running out of ideas

Robbie Keane's emotions when he was substituted by Rafa Benitez against West Ham last Monday night - for the 15th time - were etched all over his face.

Clearly, he was less than happy, particularly being replaced by an unknown, untested French youngster, David Ngog.

But, bluntly, Keane has nothing to grumble about.

His form is very poor andthere's no disguising the current conversation amongst Liverpool fans that the Irishman (right) looks very expensive at £20 million.

He certainly looks nothing like the player he was at Tottenham.

So, ironically, he can count himself fortunate that Fernando Torres will be out injured until the New Year because that means, for now, Keane will be the main man and he has to start showing he's capable of the role.

The Premier League leaders are away to Blackburn this afternoon, travel to Eindhoven on Tuesday (a game that's sole importance is in deciding who tops the Champions League group) and then are at home to Hull next Saturday: all winnable matches.

Keane HAS to play a significant part in winning them.

Burnley upset was just the ticket

It was wonderful going to Turf Moor the other night for Burnley's Carling Cup tie against Arsenal.

Maybe it's the rich Lancastrian accents that I love or the fact that the ground nestles so close to the town centre.

Our commentary position sits high up looking out over the roof of the Bob Lord Stand (remember that imposing figure?) towards the mills and the moorland.

The place oozes history: a time when football could accommodate Champions from such modest surroundings.

And it was terrific to be reminded of ‘our' connections to Burnley for it was announced this week that Jimmy McIlroy is to be given the freedom ofthe Borough.

Jimmy, one of the nicest men I've ever met in football, is still beloved there.

It was, too, a great game. We came to marvel at the potential of Arsene Wenger's latest crop of youngsters but they were deservedly beaten by a team that played football just as good as Arsenal's and were a credit to the Championship.

I can't wait to commentate on their semi-final.

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