Roy Keane has taken aim at American club owners, saying they would rather have coaches with “a nice tan and really white teeth” than conventional managers, before zeroing in on the Sunderland owner, Ellis Short, stating that Martin O’Neill should not have been dismissed at the Stadium of Light.
While Keane departed Sunderland soon after Short took ownership in 2008, he referenced O’Neill’s contentious sacking in 2013 specifically. O’Neill was replaced by Paolo Di Canio, who narrowly saved the club from relegation before Gus Poyet took over after the Italian’s 13 games in charge.
“It seems to be coming into the game, more so in England with the amount of foreign owners. Particularly the Americans. They seem to love a coach who’s got the whistle around his neck, a clipboard and a tan, and really white teeth. That gives you a chance,” Keane said.
“Martin is old school, he likes to manage the club, whereas a lot of clubs are employing – it’s even on their contracts now – coaches. I think it’s sad because a lot of clubs don’t need coaches, they need good managers.” As for Sunderland, Keane said: “Martin’s a good manager and everyone knows it, they should have just left him alone there.”
However, Keane believes the slights suffered by both – especially his failed spell at Ipswich Town – act as motivation with the international team.
“It’s always in your nature with sport, if you’re a manager,” he said. “I suppose I sort of feel the same with disappointment from Ipswich. You always feel it and go out to prove people wrong. It gives you a bit of energy to kick on. It’s slightly different with [O’Neill] because his track record is pretty decent and mine is sketchy, but you always use it as some form of motivation.”
O’Neill and Keane are out of contract with the Republic of Ireland at the end of Euro 2016 and the latter, in particular, is determined to return to club management. The FAI and O’Neill say they are relaxed and will discuss the situation after the tournament.
Drawn in a daunting Group E with Sweden, Belgium and Italy, Ireland’s prospects look bleak.
Keane said: “We certainly believe we can get out of the group and then you take it from there. Even as a player you never really think beyond that. You can’t because of the pitfalls, but I definitely think we can get out of the group.”
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