On this day in 2006, Roy Keane was strongly rumoured to be in line to take over the Sunderland hot seat, after the team, under the stewardship of Niall Quinn, had been dumped out of the Carling Cup by Bury, 48 hours earlier.
In the aftermath of the defeat, best remembered for Arnau’s red card moments into his only start for the club, Quinn had famously suggested we would have a world class manager in place for the next game.
The club was in need of a boost. Despite Quinn’s much-heralded arrival, we’d had a disastrous start to the season, and after the Bury defeat news had broken that Kevin Phillips, who’d been expected to return to the club from Aston Villa, had joined West Bromwich Albion – who’d been relegated with us – instead.
So, the news that 34-year-old Keane was in the frame to take over as manager provided something of a fillip. Whether a person who’d only retired from playing a month or two earlier, and had never managed a professional came was a world-class manager or not was more open to debate.
Still, come the following game – a home fixture with West Brom – Keane was in the stands watching on. While officially Niall Quinn was in charge of the team, Roy reportedly met the players prior, and they were evidently keen to impress.
And, as for Kevin Philips, the 33-year-old made his debut for the Baggies in the game and was given a torrid reception. At the time it was semi understandable. In hindsight it was ridiculous, and was thankfully rectified when he returned a few seasons later with Birmingham City.