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Page last updated at 19:31 GMT, Thursday, 4 December 2008

A bitter end for Keane

Roy Keane has left his post as Sunderland manager
The bubble has burst as Sunderland and Roy Keane part company

By Andrew McKenzie
BBC Sport at the Academy of Light training ground

Over six years ago Niall Quinn sat in a news conference explaining why Roy Keane had left the Republic of Ireland's squad for the 2002 World Cup.

On Thursday, Quinn found himself explaining a second Keane exit, this time announcing the 37-year-old's reign as manager of the north-east club was over after less than two-and-a-half years.

An emotional Quinn told the media how he had spent three days trying to convince Keane not to leave.

He got the same answer as he did at Ireland's training base of Saipan in 2002, when he urged Keane to patch up his differences with the then manager Mick McCarthy.

Quinn knows better than most that once Keane has made up his mind there is no turning back.

Sunderland chairman Quinn, who fought a long battle to convince his former Ireland team-mate to take charge of the Black Cats in 2006, is certain we have not seen the last of Roy Keane the manager.

But the manner of his exit from the Stadium of Light leaves burning questions about the former Manchester United skipper's managerial suitability.

Niall Quinn expresses his disappointment at the departure of Roy Keane

His record will show that he won more games than he lost, while Quinn was quick to cite how Keane had "lifted the club off its knees".

They were bottom of the Championship table when he took over and he made an instant impact, winning promotion and the league title in his first year.

He made Sunderland box-office - putting the club on the back pages, bringing back the supporters and earning them a new fanbase in Ireland.

Last season he kept Sunderland in the Premier League at the first attempt and in the summer he attracted some big names to a club that had sometimes lost out to other more "glamorous" teams.

Sunderland seemed a club that were going places.

In Keane they had a manager who had established a reputation as one of the game's winners and seemed well on the way to shattering the myth that great players do not always make great managers.

In Quinn they had a hugely popular chairman who was willing to give his manager the funds to compete in the Premier League.

Less than six weeks ago they beat their great rivals Newcastle at home for the first time in 28 years.

How Keane's exit unfolded

"It's a shame that things happened this way because five weeks ago people were dancing in the streets of Sunderland," said Quinn.

So what has led to the latest of unhappy endings for Keane, whose 12-year spell at Manchester United also ended acrimoniously?

Six defeats in seven games have not helped, a run that has pushed Sunderland into the relegation zone.

There have been rumblings the arrival of American billionaire Ellis Short has also upset the applecart.

While Quinn gave Keane a free reign to manage the club as he wished, it has been suggested new majority shareholder Short has questioned the manager's transfer dealings after he lavished 80m on new players.

Keane brought in virtually a whole new side in the summer, leaving himself with a bloated squad and some highly paid players unable to get a look-in.

He has had some success in the transfer market, but many of his buys have failed to repay the huge transfer fees he sanctioned, while Keane's hard-line stance has led to fall-outs with some of his playing staff.


Abuse from some fans at a recent Carling Cup game was met with anger from Keane, who said: "That's something I've not come into the job to accept."

Sunderland were booed off after a demoralising 4-1 home loss to Bolton at the weekend and afterwards Keane suggested he might not be the right man for the job.

It was no way for Keane, who had dodged questions about a new contract in recent weeks, to celebrate his 100th game in charge and the sort of performance that can get a manager the sack.

Earlier this week Eamonn Dunphy - the ghost writer of Keane's autobiography - questioned his managerial capabilities.

"It has been apparent to me for the last 18 months that he isn't going to be a serious manager," Dunphy told BBC Radio 5 Live.

"If you look at the players he has brought in and out, remarkable, staggering - and he has wasted a lot of money.

"Maybe he needs to start, like Brian Clough or Bill Shankly, down in the lower leagues and learn the business of management and all its aspects."

Quinn was adamant Keane had resigned because he felt they had "a good team he can't take forward" while rejecting suggestions he would be labelled a quitter for walking away.

Much like in 2002 there appears there could be more to the story than first meets the eye.

Only time will tell if we get the other side of the tale and what the next chapter will be for Roy Keane.

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see also
Keane resigns as Sunderland boss
04 Dec 08 |  Sunderland
Players shocked over Keane exit
04 Dec 08 |  Sunderland
Roy Keane's career in photos
04 Dec 08 |  Photo Galleries
Reid dismisses Sunderland crisis
03 Dec 08 |  Sunderland
Keane unsure of Sunderland future
30 Nov 08 |  Sunderland
Sunderland 1-4 Bolton
29 Nov 08 |  Premier League
Keane's Sunderland success story
05 Mar 07 |  Sunderland
The odd couple
27 Aug 06 |  Sunderland
Keane becomes new Sunderland boss
28 Aug 06 |  Sunderland
Angry Keane slates Man Utd fans
09 Nov 00 |  Champions League

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