Roy Keane walked away from Sunderland on Thursday after a run of five defeats in six matches convinced him he was no longer the man to take the relegation-threatened club forward.
Sunderland chairman Niall Quinn, who brought Keane to the Stadium of Light in August 2006, said the parting of the ways had been amicable, and backed his former Ireland teammate to return to management once he has had a break from the game.
“He will get a bit of time to himself now and I am sure he will recharge and get going again, and I am sure we all know the Premier League hasn’t seen the last of him. He has got great things to come,” Quinn said.
With Sunderland currently languishing in the bottom three of the Premier League, first-team coach Ricky Sbragia will take over team affairs on an interim basis and will be assisted by reserve team coach Neil Bailey and senior player Dwight Yorke in preparing the squad for today’s daunting trip to champions Manchester United.
Former Bolton and Newcastle boss Sam Allardyce — who played for Sunderland — was immediately installed as favorite to succeed Keane. Former West Ham and Charlton manager Alan Curbishley was also touted, but Hull’s highly rated Phil Brown ruled out leaving his current job.
After 24 hours of intense speculation that the former United, Celtic and Ireland midfielder star was on the brink of quitting, the shock departure was confirmed in the wake of a meeting between the 37-year-old and the club’s board.
Quinn said he had tried in vain to persuade Keane to stay.
“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,” the Irishman said.
“It was the other way round. We spent three days trying very hard to see if we could find a solution that way. But when push came to shove it was such an amicable agreement. It’s a disappointing day in many respects, but of course, we fully respect his decision,” he said.
In his first season in charge, Keane steered Sunderland from the Championship’s relegation zone to promotion to the Premier League as champions and Sunderland retained their top-flight status relatively comfortably last season.
Quinn said Sunderland fans would recognize that Keane had made a huge difference to the club’s fortunes.
“Roy deserves huge respect for his contribution and the manner in which he guided the club from the depths of the Championship back to the Premier League,” Quinn said.