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Another Red To Sunderland – Does Keano Have What It Takes?

Roy KeanePhil Bardsley has joined the long list of ex-Reds at Roy Keane’s Sunderland today, for a fee which could be worth £2 million. I know I’m not alone in feeling regretful over saying farewell to the Salford lad, who a couple of years ago looked to be the man to replace Gary Neville, in playing position as well Mancunian pride and passion on the field. Bardsley seemingly missed out on his chance when Ferguson opted to loan him out and keep the younger Danny Simpson with the first squad. Loan spells at Villa and Rangers showed him up as nothing special and it is not a surprise he’s been sold on.

It is also not a surprise that Sunderland is his destination. He joins Andy Cole, Dwight Yorke, Kieren Richardson, Liam Miller, Paul McShane and Danny Higginbottom as a former red at the club, as well as Johnny Evans, who is currently on loan from United. Van der Gouw is the goalkeeping coach, and Quinton Fortune training with the club in the hope of agreeing on a permanent deal. Keane is now only a handful of players short of making a starting XI of players who have worn our shirt.

When the most popular question of United forum arises, who is going to be the man to replace Sir Alex Ferguson as manager, Roy Keane’s name is always one of the first mentioned. He is a born winner who enjoyed thirteen years under the management of Fergie, eight of those as captain, so is deemed a natural replacement. The fans adore him, he knows how United works, and he is has the winning mentality.

Keane took charge of Sunderland after they’d lost their four opening games of the 2006-2007 season. He brought in six players on the final day of the August transfer window, including former United players Dwight Yorke and Liam Miller. He managed to change things dramatically at the club, quickly guiding them out of the relegation zone. As Sunderland rose up the table, Keane was awarded Championship Manager of the Month in February and March.

Keane took on board Ferguson’s no-nonsense attitude, which was shown publicly when he left behind three players who showed up late for the coach before Sunderland’s trip to Barnsley.

Come the end of the season, Sunderland were crowned Champions, with Keano being named Championship Manager of the Season. United fans started to get awfully giddy. Keano was proving himself as a good manager as well as a great player, but how would he get on in the Premiership?

Keane had a dream start to the Premiership as a manager, with his side securing an injury time win against Spurs, who at the time, had been tipped to knock Arsenal out of the top four. Since then, Sunderland have struggled. They are currently placed in the relegation zone, however it must be noted, only two points separates Sunderland from the team placed five spots ahead of them, so it is not a disastrous standing at this point.

With Keane insisting on signing players he is familiar with, who are either Irish or ex-United, on top of his less than spectacular start to the Premiership, it begs the question whether he is United quality?

It’s early days yet and I will neither back or dismiss him as the future United manager, but the signing of Bardsley confirms Keane’s preference to sign what he feels comfortable with, rather than taking a risk. Who would he be signing if he was the United manager? More Irish and Sunderland players? He’s going to have to up his game in the transfer market if he wants a look in at our post.

Are you sad to see Bardsley go? Does Keano have what it takes to be the future United manager?

About Scott

Scott is the editor of Red Matters - 50 Years of Supporting Manchester United and an author of Play Like Fergie's Boys and Not Nineteen Forever. He writes for ESPN, The Metro and Bleacher Report. Follow @R_o_M on Twitter.

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  1. JamesGreece says:

    I’ve read (in a Sunday Times article) that there was no scouting system at Sunderland, so he didn’t have a choice but to stick to players he knows first hand. He definitely has what it takes -except experience- to be a United manager.

  2. Rich - Sunderland Fan says:

    Interesting article. Its true that Sunderland had no scouting system, hence why he has only mainly bought players from ManU and players he has seen in the championship. The lack of any foreign contacts is causing problems and it is something he is looking to address. He did gamble with the signing of K.Jones who is proving popular and playing very well. From what Ive heard Keane makes the players give 100% in training and treats the sessions like games. He is a quality manager who will defo get better and better

  3. chris says:

    i dont think he is looking to be united manager. ‘i was born to be manager of sunderland’ – Roy Keane (2007)

    He’ll want to establish us as a force as he did united as a player.

  4. pdm says:

    he has missed out on recent singings … look at who derby signed..he should have broke the bank for diarra and maybe considered mc fadden. overall he hasn’t signed that well .except jones. but in mitigation they have been unlucky at not winning 3 to 4 more points.

  5. steve30000 says:

    we are becoming man utds reserves. its becoming a bit of a joke now.

  6. Patricia says:

    Of course he has what it takes. He needs to spend a few years at Sunderland, bring them up, maybe to mid-table, and then it will be his turn at United. Myself, since Roy, I really enjoy watching Sunderland matches (like I never did before) and keeping up with their news.

  7. Sam says:

    Chris- that is just a typical Keano comment.

    I don’t think anyone with such a strong bond to a team infinitely better than Sunderland really means it when he says “I was born to manage Sunderland”. It’s slightly self-demeaning coming from the captain of one of the most successful teams in English league history, and I think that was the purpose- merely to show commitment in the face of rumours that he was using Sunderland as a springboard to greater things.

    However I do think he’ll stay there for a while; there is certainly no question of him becoming manager of United at least for another 5 years or so- and if Fergie chooses to retire before then, we’ll have to look elsewhere.

    Meanwhile, lets hope Sunderland stay in the league. Aside from the sentimental reasons, I can’t help but hoping that our old boys would put on a particularly impassioned performance against our bitter rivals in the coming years…

  8. Tom F says:

    I personally would put Mark Hughes first for the managers position if a former Red had to take it. I love Keane for his attitude and passion but at Manchester United experience is vital. Nobody has Sir Alex Fergusons experience but the day he steps down (which I dread) I hope Carlos Quiroz steps in to his place and would be very happy to see Keane as his right hand man, but would Keane accept that position?

    The way things are going right now I see our club or at least squad going in the direction which will see players like Ronny, Nani, Anderson last a long time and feel at home. I’m very much looking forward to the next 3 or 4 years and I can’t see Keane managing this club in that time at least.

  9. Henrik says:

    I think there’s one candidate who stands out at Fergies successor, and that’s Martin O’Neill. Villa has been a joy to watch, and with almost the same squad as that of the cunt O’Leary they are threatening to break the big 4. Most importantly, by managing Celtic he has experience with European football and the challenge of staying at the top year after year. And ffs; he won the Carling Cup with Leicester, and made Heskey look like a world-beater!

  10. Christovski says:

    Quieroz? No way. Hughes would be my choice for sure.

    As for Keano, he has been a tad unlucky in the first half of the season – but I reckon Evans is going to have a blinder of a half season once he’s settled back in.

  11. Tom F says:

    Although Sir Alex has a presence that can’t be touched (I’ve nothing bad to say about him at all) Carlos Quiroz has been running our team under SAF’s delegation and has become more abd more invloved with the transfer side of things, so it’s only natural to let him continue rather than bring in a new man with new staff and disrupting what I believe is a very harmonious squad.

  12. Larry M says:

    I don’t think Keane wants to manage Man U. What could he prove there? Only that he is as good as AF. If he proves successful with my team as I think he will> He will either stay there or try to turn another sleeping giant team into the new Man U.

  13. denton davey says:

    I hate to make this analogy but it seems to me that Carlos Quieroz is playing the Bob Paisley role to SAF’s Shankly. And if we won’t blind ourselves in the process of choking on that.

    it’s salient to remember that it was Paisley who took over from the Great Scot and proceeded to lead his team to heights of glory that Shankly never attained,

    About Keane – gotta love his attributes but he’s still very raw; Maybe after Carlos his time will come.

  14. Wheatley Hill East Durham says:

    Keane baffles me. He is clueless at times. He is obsessed with Man Utd and Irish players.
    He is going to take us down at this rate.

  15. United on Fire says:

    I think the first manager after Fergie will be shark bait and on a hiding to nothing. Remember post-Busby? Let that man be Quizero. If he can still win things, then he really is a good manager.

    After that, which will be a few years down the line I think, we’ll see who the best ex-United player going round. Hughes or Keane, is my bet. Keane is still very young in the job, so we can’t comment and we don’t know the reasons for him constantly picking ex-United players. In one respect, it is a decent idea, buying players you know carries less risk to him. But it is worryingly short-sighted.

  16. ourman says:

    People don’t realise he has spent nearly £40m this year alone and for what – a relegation spot.

    How can Sunderland spend all that money and still be playing Dwight Yorke in midfield.

    There is also the suggestion that he just doesn’t know how to attract players. Okay Sunderland aren’t high profile but Keane is – players should want to play for him but they don’t. The suggestion is that when he tries to sign a player the onus is on them to want to play for Sunderland. Keane, on the other hand, doesn’t make much effort to persuade them.

    For all that money spent to do date the money spent on Jones represents the only success. That is an absolutely terrible hit rate.

  17. IndianPunk says:

    i am rooting for quiroz to take over and thats what most probably will happen so keano and cantona and a million others gotta wait and first prove themselves then we’ll talkCLUB COMES OVER PLAYERS

  18. Kunal says:

    I will go for Steve Coppell… his team play amazing football… very attacking, 3rd best after United and arsenal.. I dont think he has signed any big players or not even spent as Keano…

    And most importantly he has great experience and he has a good eye for a talent… which is the most important thing now a days… the way they beat Pool… I think if he had to manage United today… he would do great job…

  19. denton davey says:

    When SAF retires Steve Coppell will be too old for the job – whereas a “stopgap” like Carlos Quieroz will be even older but the “designated heir”.

    For CQ this is probably a poisoned chalice UNLESS he can exceed SAF’s prodigious accomplishments. Unlikely, but it’s been done before by the unassuming Bob Paisley who took L’pool to heights unimagined by his great predecessor.

    But if CQ fails then the search committee will probably go for a younger man – someone with the kind of resume that the execrable Jose Mourinho built up at Porto. (But it sure as hell won’t be Mourinho ! ) it’s at that time – and in those circumstances – that the old boys like Keane or Hughes will probably get their chance.

    Of course, if SAF stays on another three/four years and CQ is the boss for four more years then Keane-o will be in his early middle-40s which would be the prime age to look for a real “replacement” for The Great Scot.

  20. Tom F says:

    I keep getting these bad feelings that SAF will retire this summer… :O/

  21. United on Fire says:

    The only way I see Fergie retiring this summer is if we win the Champions League this season.

  22. Tom F says:

    That’s exactly it, I feel this year more than any we have the solidarity and skill to lift the Champions League cup. It’s clear Fergie is loving his job as much as ever right now but the gears are clearly shifting, Carlos Quieroz is taking more and more responsibilty as the months pass by. One thing for sure, nobody will keep a tight rein on the players of MUFC like Sir Alex has over the years, he has made many players fulfill their potential and turned a good few into Stars.

  23. United on Fire says:

    Interesting points. Do you think Fergie will retire if United win the Champions League? I’ve set up a poll and put the fors and againsts on my blog at

  24. Kunal says:

    SAF will only retire after winning more league title than Liverpool… he has this hunger and it will oinly satisfy him when we win 19 titles and one more CL..

  25. denton davey says:

    I agree with Kunal – getting ManUtd ahead of L’pool in League titles is the ultimate finish-line for SAF. Two more years, then !


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