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Transcript: Roy Keane reflects on his time at Sunderland in Neville interview

Appearing on The Overlap with Gary Neville, Roy Keane reflected on his time in charge of Sunderland, falling out with Ellis Short, and his desire to return to management.

Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

On taking the job and getting promoted...

I go Sunderland who were bottom of the Championship and we get promoted. That’s down to the players, the players done brilliant. I got good backing, good recruitment. We stay up in the Premier League and I see managers now when they stay up and they’re getting carried around the pitch. I remember in the dressing room and I was still a bit agitated thinking we could’ve done better and the season I left we were averaging a point a game I think and I think we were in the quarter finals of the League Cup; but I was still agitated.

I thought we should be doing better, so that was my lack of experience. I wish for example I maybe rang somebody like Terry Venables or somebody for a bit of advice and they would’ve probably said to me ‘you’re doing well, you’re doing fine, relax’. I was still getting agitated.

New Sunderland soccer manager Roy Keane Photo credit should read PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images

On the second season expectations and new contract...

When we stayed up in the first season for some stupid reason, I thought we would then automatically go up another 5 or 6 places which is madness. When I see teams now when we do the TV and you see teams stay up, you say they’ve done brilliant and I’d say what’s the priority the next year and it’s to stay up again. It’s about survival for the first 3 or 4 years, you see that with any team that gets promoted. But I just didn’t see that myself, I got a bit impatient and I was in the last year of my contract.

I think part of my mind set was ‘I need to really get another step-up’ to maybe get a new contract or move on. I was in talks [ for a new contract] but because we’d lost 1 or 2 matches towards the end of my time there, I was reluctant to sign a new contract. It’s as if I was panicking and then we lost a few matches and I didn’t want to be seen that I was desperate by signing it and then before you know it – I’d left.

Soccer - Coca-Cola Football League Championship - Derby County v Sunderland - Pride Park Photo by Jon Buckle - PA Images via Getty Images

On Ellis Short...

In the start of my second season Sunderland were sold to Ellis Short and the dynamics changed a little bit. Obviously the results weren’t great but again we were getting a point a game and which I should’ve been going ‘ok that’s fine’. I didn’t like the way he [Ellis] spoke to me, the tone of his voice. I go back to United or with Ireland, I think if people speak down to me or show me a lack of respect that does irritate me. It doesn’t mean to say that I’m not afraid to answer to people, obviously we’ve got owners and when I was younger we had senior players but my last conversation with Ellis Short he said I needed to move up to the area and I was thinking I’m 35/36; why should a guy be telling me a married man with 5 kids where I should be living.

I see his point but I just think there’s a way of saying it, it’s the way someone speaks to you. If someone speaks down to you. Really when I look back at my differences with other managers – I feel I should really answer to my Dad, I shouldn’t be spoken down to by a Ferguson or McCarthy. Why should I be spoken down to?

Manchester United v Sunderland Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

On things he would’ve done differently...

Everyone makes mistakes, where do I start. I think the key for me where I got a ride at Sunderland was the recruitment. I got it wrong at Ipswich. [At Sunderland] I brought in not necessarily the best players but not always the best characters, I think that’s the hardest part. Do I look back on my coaches and staff and think did we get it wrong or got that really wrong? No, so I don’t think I would do too much different at Sunderland. When I was at Sunderland and we started winning a few matches people started to make out that we doing extraordinary things, which we weren’t. We had good training sessions and we got momentum. When you’ve got a good group, you’ve got a good group.

I learnt more from my time at Ipswich than I did at Sunderland.

Ipswich Town v Swansea City - npower Championship Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images

On returning to management...

I had talks with a Championship club maybe about 3 month ago. It was very casual, it was at house with the chairman and we was very straight up. He said ‘ look we just want someone to come in and win us football matches’. And that was fine with me, I didn’t have to breakdown styles of play. I think when you’re winning matches people don’t question ‘what’s your style of play?’ You just bounce into the next match and we done that as players. It’s the worst feeling in the world when you lose games, it’s shocking – you almost feel like you’re caring too much. When you’re a manager and you lose your job it’s a long way back.

Perception – people think I’m probably not up to it. They see me on the television and that he’s a bit of a head case because I felt out with McCarthy, Ferguson and they think he’s trouble. But I don’t think I am.

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Watch the full interview here...


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