May 25, 2024

Roy Keane – Football Manager

Roy Keane pats Dwight Yorke of Sunderland as he's substituted

It was a not a surprise that Roy Keane decided to go into football management as his sharp intelligence and real passion for soccer was obvious to all. What was a surprise was the fact that his first club as a football manager was Sunderland whose chairman was Niall Quinn. Keane’s comments about Quinn after the Saipan incident appeared to leave no room for the two men to ever work together again. Quinn’s benign personality and the attraction of such a big club created the right conditions to kick off Keane’s managerial career in August 2006. When he took over as manager of Sunderland the club was just off the bottom of the Championship and relegation to League One was looking like a distinct possibility.

An Instant Success as a Manager

Just before the close of the transfer window Keane’s first signings as a football manager were former Manchester United team-mates Dwight Yorke and Liam Miller, in addition to former Celtic players Ross Wallace and Stanislav Varga, and Irish internationals Graham Kavanagh and David Connolly. Sunderland won their first two matches under Keane’s guidance and further positive results saw the club climb out of the bottom half of the Championship by the new year.

With further new signings the new manager continued to guide Sunderland up the table. Almost unbelievably Roy Keane managed Sunderland into the Premier League in his first season as a football manager, winning the Championship title in the process. This was a truly remarkable achievement for the novice manager especially as Sunderland appeared to be doomed to relegation when Keane took over control of the club.

Roy Keane was voted Championship manager of the season in his first year in football management.

Roy Keane Finds the Premiership Difficult

Despite significant expenditure and a large number of new signings Sunderland struggled in the Premiership during the following season. Nevertheless Keane’s first season as a Premier League manager finished relatively positively as Sunderland won 11 matches and finished in 15th position in the league, three points above the relegation zone. During the season signs of strain had begun to show as Keane was publicly critical of some of his players including Anthony Stokes and Liam Miller.

Roy Keane Resigns as Sunderland Manager

In December 2008 Roy Keane resigned from his position as football manager of Sunderland. Despite further major expenditure on new signings Sunderland’s second season back in the Premier League proved to be very difficult for Keane on and off the pitch. American investor Ellis Short had become the majority shareholder in Sunderland.

Perhaps not unreasonably Keane’s new boss demanded to have more access to his club manager. According to Keane, Short began to make suggestions that Keane should move his family to the Sunderland area and questioned how often Keane showed up at the club. Keane believed that the dynamics of his relationship with Sunderland had changed. Along with this, results on the football pitch were not positive.

By the time that he resigned Sunderland had won just four out of 15 league matches and languished in the relegation zone.

Roy Keane’s Management Style

To most people’s surprise Roy Keane the manager generally maintained a dignified and calm demeanour pitch-side – in stark contrast to the footballer Roy Keane. However former Sunderland players Clive Clarke and Dwight Yorke have claimed that in the dressing room Keane’s actions and attitude was more typical of him as a player.

Clarke who’s career ended following a heart attack had questioned Keane’s management style in a newspaper interview when he said ” He’s going around booting chairs and throwing things. He’s never going to give you confidence, he doesn’t talk to lads.”[1] Upon hearing about Clarke’s heart attack Keane reportedly said “Is he OK? I’m shocked they found one, you could never tell by the way he plays.”[2]

In his autobiography, Born to Score, Dwight Yorke concluded that Roy Keane’s temperament was not suited to club management. “I think he is an impact manager … ideal for the international stage.” Yorke described the scene at half time in a match between Sunderland and Northampton in the Carling Cup in September 2008. “There were the first signs of tension between Keano and the Sunderland supporters. We knew we were in for a tongue-lashing. We waited for the fireworks. Keano emerged from the washroom, quietly, calmly. He asked our kit manager if he can get the tactics board … The board goes up. And Keano takes a running jump and smashes it over with a kung-fu kick. He screamed at Danny Collins: ‘Never come to me and ask for a contract again.’ And then the captain, Dean Whitehead, is next. ‘Captain? Captain? Some f***in’ captain you are,’ he rages, slapping Dean about the head in the process before turning on us all. ‘I can’t trust any of you’.” Dwight Yorke said that he knew that the beginning of the end of Keane’s reign as Sunderland manager.

Things went from bad to worse as Keane became something of an absentee manager sometimes not appearing at the club for three or four days at a time. He would not take phone calls from his employer Ellis Short. Dwight Yorke described how the club descended into something approaching anarchy. “Paranoia rampaged through the club, players were at each other’s throats and fighting one another; it was disintegrating before our very eyes … results inevitably crumbled still further.” Time was up for Roy Keane as Sunderland football club manager.

NOTE: Unless stated otherwise all quotations are from:
Born to Score: Dwight Yorke (2009); Pan Macmillan
[1] Daily Telegraph
[2] News of the World

Colin Healy Forgotton Man of Saipan

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Saipan Table of Contents Roy Keane & Eamon Dunphy
Saipan Introduction Roy Keane & Cork
Methodology Keane’s Aversion to Being Away From Home
Saipan Conclusions Roy Keane’s Relationship with Ireland
Roy Keane – Mick McCarthy Relationship Roy Keane – Zenith Data Systems Cup
Roy Keane Version of Saipan Incident Roy Keane – Jack Charlton Relationship
Mick McCarthy Version of Saipan Incident 1 Roy Keane’s Flawed Character
Mick McCarthy Account of Saipan Incident 2 Roy Keane’s Good Character
Niall Quinn Version of Saipan Incident Roy Keane – Footballer
Jason McAteer Version of Saipan Incident Roy Keane – Team Captain
Matt Holland Version of Saipan Incident Roy Keane – Family Man
Roy Keane & Saipan – The Backdrop Roy Keane & Faking Injury
Roy Keane & Saipan – The Issues Roy Keane – Bad Boy
Keane / McCarthy Boston Row 1992 Roy Keane – Career Lows
Keane Misses Iran Playoff Game Roy Keane – Red Cards
Keane Misses Niall Quinn Testimonial Roy Keane – Cruciate Injury
Countdown to Saipan Incident Roy Keane & Alf-Inge Haaland
Roy Keane Saipan Tirade at Mick McCarthy Roy Keane & Gareth Southgate Red Card
Roy Keane / Tom Humphries Saipan Interview 1 Roy Keane & Alan Shearer Red Card
Keane / Humphries Saipan Interview 2 Roy Keane / Alex Ferguson Relationship 1
Roy Keane / Irish Times Saipan Interview 3 Roy Keane & Sir Alex Ferguson 2
Roy Keane / Paul Kimmage Saipan Interview 1 Roy Keane & Charity
Keane / Kimmage Saipan Interview 2 Roy Keane & Autobiography Contradictions
Roy Keane / Sunday Independent Saipan Interview 3 Roy Keane & Contradictions
Roy Keane / Tommie Gorman Interview 1 Roy Keane – Integrity
Roy Keane / Tommy Gorman Interview 2 Roy Keane – International Matches
Roy Keane / RTE Interview 3 Roy Keane – Football Record
FAI Involvement in Saipan Affair Roy Keane & Sandwiches
Saipan Reaction of Irish Players Roy Keane – Walker
Mick McCarthy – ‘crap player, crap manager’ Saipan – Pacific Island
Roy Keane / Mick McCarthy Playing Record I Keano – The Musical
Colin Healy – Forgotten Man of Saipan Roy Keane – Football Manager
Saipan Ten Years Later Roy Keane’s Dog Triggs
Roy Keane’s Autobiography Saipan Bibiliography


Roy Keane – View Seven Years After Saipan
Football Quotes on Saipan


Triggs – The Autobiography of Roy Keane’s Dog
Ireland at 2002 World Cup Finals – Irish 2002 World Cup Squad – Irish Group Matches
Ireland V Cameroon – Ireland V Germany – Ireland V Saudi Arabia – Ireland V Spain