Keane walks away from Black Cats

 

Roy Keane Resignation: Sunderland have confirmed manager Roy Keane has walked away from the club after six losses in seven games saw the Black Cats drop to 18th in the Premier League. The club said this afternoon that it had "reluctantly accepted" Keane's resignation and thanked the Corkman "for all his hard work in progressing this club, lifting its status and growing its worldwide profile."

Keane added: "I would like to thank my staff, players, (Sunderland chairman) Niall Quinn and in particular the fans for their support during my time at Sunderland, and I would like to wish the club every success in the future."

First-team coach Ricky Sbragia will take over team affairs on an interim basis, assisted by reserve-team coach Neil Bailey and senior player Dwight Yorke.

Quinn said: "Roy, as he says himself, is his harshest critic. He just felt he had completed his journey here, and he just felt he didn't want to get it unstuck any further and find ourselves in deeper, darker territory.

"That's the measure of the guy. It's funny, in situations like this, I am sure nine times out of 10, the chairman is saying how the manager was trying to keep his job. It was the other way round.

"It's a disappointing day in many respects, but of course, we fully respect his decision.

"And of course, once he made his decision, I said to him, 'I know you too well, Roy, to try to overturn it now' once he went over that line."

"The board has reluctantly accepted his decision and wish him and his family well for the future," added Quinn.

Keane, who was due to hold his pre-match press conference for Saturday's Barclays Premier League trip to former club Manchester United at 1pm this afternoon, was appointed in August 2006.

He immediately turned the fortunes of the club around, lifting them out of the relegation zone in the Championship and guiding them to the Premier League in his first season in charge.

Last season, Sunderland finished 15th in the league, three points from the relegation zone.

The 37-year-old was given unprecedented financial backing by the Sunderland board, with his spending topping in excess of £70million (€81million) on 33 players.

Last summer he brought in former Liverpool striker of Djibril Cisse, defender Anton Ferdinand, El-Hadji Diouf, Pascal Chimbonda and Steed Malbranque but none have shone as yet on Wearside and the club now finds itself in 18th position in the league.

Reports had suggested that his relationship with the players had grown strained over recent weeks but two of them, Andy Reid and goalkeeper Craig Gordon, backed the former Republic of Ireland captain in the last 24 hours.

Sunderland's recent poor run culminated in demoralising 4-1 defeat to Bolton at the Stadium of Light on Saturday.

Keane's biographer, journalist Eamonn Dunphy, has been openly critical of the former Celtic player recently and and he reiterated his point today, claiming on Sky Sports that Keane was "out of his depth".

"One of the many tasks a manager has to face up to, in the Premiership particularly, is the buying and selling of players. If you are not good at that, you lose a lot of money and you lose a lot of credibility and there's a lot of instability in the club," said Dunphy. "Those signs have been there 12 months or more."

Dunphy, once Keane's most vocal supporter, added that Keane was also beginning to believe his own hype.

"I think he brought with him to the club, this sort of aura, one that was very difficult for the players, many of whom are limited, to deal with," he said. "You've got have a humility, I think, in life in general.  He was such a great, great star as a player that perhaps that humility factor wasn't there when he had to deal with real mortals."

ROY KEANE - SUNDERLAND TIMELINE

2006: August 28— Keane appointed Sunderland manager. With team in the Championship relegation zone, he sets about making immediate changes by signing six players before closure of transfer window.

September— Starts with victories over Derby and Leeds.

2007: March— Wins second consecutive manager of the month award with Sunderland having climbed to third in the table.

April: Victory over Burnley puts Sunderland on the brink of promotion, which is secured when Derby lose to Crystal Palace.

May: Sunderland clinch the Championship title by wrapping up their campaign with a 5-0 thrashing of Luton. Keane declines chance to celebrate with an open-top bus parade.

July/August:Brings in a host of summer signings including Scotland goalkeeper Craig Gordon for a record £9million.

August— Begins Premier League campaign with last-gasp 1-0 win over Tottenham.

November— Despite winning start Sunderland take just seven points from their next 13 games — the last of which is a 7-1 thrashing by Everton — to slip into the bottom three.

2008: February— Form lifts after Christmas with wins over Bolton, Portsmouth, Birmingham and Wigan.

March/April— Consecutive wins over Aston Villa, West Ham and Fulham steer Sunderland to safety.

September— Victory over Middlesbrough lifts Sunderland to sixth but claims he will not "tolerate people abusing me" after fans react angrily to an unconvincing Carling Cup win over Northampton.

November— A run of just one win in six games, culminating with a 4-1 thrashing by Bolton, leaves Sunderland in the bottom three.

December 4— Keane leaves Sunderland after crisis talks on Wearside.

KEANE'S HIGHS AND LOWS

Roy Keane's highs and lows since he first made his mark on English football 18 years ago.

1990 SNAPPED UP BY CLOUGH: Gets his big break in professional football when Nottingham Forest boss Brian Clough signs him from League of Ireland club Cobh Ramblers for £10,000. Does not take long to make an impact, making his debut for Forest at Liverpool and being named Barclays Young Eagle of the Month for December.

1991 INTERNATIONAL DEBUT: Impresses Jack Charlton enough to hand him his international bow for the Republic of Ireland in 1-1 draw with Chile in Dublin.

1993 THE BIG-MONEY MOVE: After competition from a host of clubs he joins  Manchester United for a then British transfer record fee of £3.75 million after  154 matches and 33 goals for Forest.

1994 INSTANT SUCCESS: Marks first season with United by helping club complete their first League and FA Cup double. 

AMERICAN ADVENTURE: Helps the Republic reach the second round of the World Cup in the United States, figuring in all four matches.

1996 DOUBLE DOUBLE: An inspirational presence as United clinch historic  second double with 1-0 FA Cup final win over Liverpool.

1997 THE NATURAL SUCCESSOR: Eric Cantona's retirement from professional football opens up a vacancy for the United captaincy, which Sir Alex Ferguson has no hesitancy over naming Keane as the new man.

1999 THE MATCHWINNER: Scores the goal which earns United a 1-0 Toyota Cup victory over Palmeiras of Brazil. United are the first British club to lift the  Inter-Continental Cup.

2000 TALENTS RECOGNISED: Named PFA and Football Writers' Association player of the year before lifting Premier League title for the sixth time in eight years.

2003 CHAMPIONS: Lifts the Premier League trophy at Goodison Park as United  hold off Arsenal for the title.

2004 RETURN TO THE FOLD: Makes first appearance for Ireland since Mick McCarthy bust-up in friendly with Romania.

2005 GOALSCORING LANDMARK: Scores his 50th goal for United in 2-0 Premier League win over Birmingham. 

SIGNS FOR CELTIC: Joins club he always hoped to play for, and goes on to  help Celtic win Scottish Premier League title in 2006.

2006 MOVES INTO MANAGEMENT: Appointed boss at Sunderland early in 2006-07 season.

2007 WINS PROMOTION: Steers Sunderland to Coca-Cola Championship title having taken over the side in the relegation zone.

LOWS

1991 RUN-IN WITH BIG JACK: Even as a teenager, Keane was not afraid to stand up to authority. Following a friendly against the United States, the Republic of Ireland team were allowed a night out. The next morning, with departure set for 7.30am, the team were kept waiting until 8am by Keane, invoking the wrath of manager Jack Charlton.

1999 KEANE "ANNOYED" BY CONTRACT OFFER: Keane admitted his unhappiness with the first new contract offer he received from Manchester United. He said: "I was a bit annoyed with the first offer put to me. Deep down they must have known it wasn't something I could sign. Our dealings have to be realistic. I am not naive enough to settle for anything less than a reasonable valuation of my worth."

2000 KEANE FURIOUS WITH LETTER TO FANS: Keane brands United's decision to blame his £52,000-a-week wages for the hike in season ticket prices as "a stupid mistake". The club sent a letter to fans claiming that one of the reasons for the ticket increases was Keane's wage rise.

THE PRAWN SANDWICH AFFAIR: Keane hits out at sections of Manchester United's support following what he felt was a poor atmosphere in the club's Champions League clash with Dynamo Kiev.

2001 WHEN THE "RED MIST" DESCENDS: Keane admitted there were "no excuses" for his continuing lack of discipline after being shown a red card for the 10th time in his career.

2002 SENT HOME FROM WORLD CUP: An exasperated Keane announces he will quit international football after the World Cup having expressed his dissatisfaction with the Republic's preparations. When clear-the-air talks with McCarthy descend into a "slanging match", the Republic boss promptly sends his best player home. 

ALF-INGE HAALAND: Having suffered a serious knee injury in a clash with Haaland earlier in his career, Keane got his revenge in a Manchester derby. A  crude stamp on the Norwegian's knee earned a red card and left Haaland badly  injured. In his autobiography Keane admitted: "I waited until five minutes before the end, I hit him hard."

2003 INTERNATIONAL RETIREMENT: Despite the efforts of new Ireland manager Brian Kerr to tempt him back into the Republic's set-up, Keane announces his intention to retire from international football.

2004 CHAMPIONS LEAGUE DISMISSAL: Sent off as United lose in Porto in a Champions League last-16 clash. Misses the second leg at Old Trafford as the Red Devils crash out of Europe at the hands of Jose Mourinho's eventual champions.

2005 KEANE ANGERS SAINTS FANS: Invokes the wrath of Southampton fans by mocking their relegation plight before being ushered off the pitch after a 2-1 win at St Mary's, a result that contributed to the Saints drop from the Premiership. 

DENIED RECORD-MAKING OPPORTUNITY: A United victory in the FA Cup final would have granted Keane a record-equalling fifth winners' medal. As it is, Arsenal emerge triumphant on penalties in a game that United dominated.

ANNOUNCES EXIT PLANS: Keane reveals he expects to leave United in summer 2006, ending a 13-year Old Trafford career. He stresses he would play for no other English club.

INTERNATIONAL EXIT - AGAIN: Two days after the Republic of Ireland fail to qualify for the World Cup in Germany Keane announces he is to quit international football for a second time.

2006 RETIREMENT: Announces retirement following medical advice.

2008 EXITS SUNDERLAND: Leaves his first managerial post after crisis talks on Wearside.