Thursday, December 04, 2008

Roy Keane quits - again.

It is not easy being a Sunderland supporter.

It took five minutes for the 'joke' emails to start rolling in, here Keane is seen leaving Sunderland with...his wagon?!

My father first came to Ireland in 1973, the year Sunderland won the FA Cup in one of the biggest upsets ever in English football. They beat one of the greatest ever Leeds United sides, a team packed with legendary figures, 1-0. Dad, a notorious underdog backer, was hooked. For whatever reason, the disease was hereditary, and there is pretty much every jersey Sunderland have had since I could afford to start buying them in the late eighties clogging up my wardrobe.

Today reports are coming out of the Stadium of Light, Sunderland's beautiful new-age stadium, that Roy Keane has walked out on his team, leaving them near the bottom of the Premiership and facing Manchester United, in Old Trafford, on Saturday afternoon. Not exactly a super position to be in.

Supporting Sunderland is generally a pretty thankless task. One of those sporting endeavours where you learn to really appreciate the good times, they are so few and far between. A runners up medal in the old 'Milk Cup' (now the Carlin Cup) in 1985. Same again in the FA Cup in '91 against Liverpool. A couple of Championship (the level below the premiership) titles in 2005 and 2007. That's it. That's all she wrote. In my entire life the best Sunderland have ever managed is two seventh places Premiership finishes under the reign of Peter Reid (Wonder what he's up to at the moment?!).

Now Keane, Keano, the legendary Cork man walks away, with things in a total mess. Once again he walks away from a tricky situation. Once again? Yes, once again, Keane notoriously walked out on the Irish soccer team just before the start of the Japan/Korea World Cup of 2002. An incident so famous it has its own wikipedia page.

Back then he left a relatively young Irish team without a veteran leader, a few days before the start of the biggest tournament they would ever play in. He literally said 'fuck you' to an entire nation and went and did his thing.

This time he has spent 80 million (sterling, that's about 145 billion US dollars) of Sunderland's money, with about half of his purchases being at best questionable, and has walked away with the club in the relegation zone of the Premiership and facing one of the top teams in the world on Saturday afternoon.

There is a fantastic line in the wildly hilarious movie 'Forgetting Sarah Marshall' where Paul Rudd's sage yet psychopathic surfer character says 'When life give you lemons, say 'Fuck the lemons' and bail!'

Keane, Dude..Fuck the lemons, bail!

That could very well serve as the epitaph on Roy Keane's relatively brief sojourn as Sunderland manager. It could actually serve as the title of his next book too, perhaps, as it seems to reflect his overall ethos on life quite succinctly.

Maybe Kenwye Jones and the ebullient Gabby Cisse can still drag Sunderland out of the relegation mire. Maybe a new manager will come in and rescue Sunderland from the depths of Premiership anonymity. Whatever happens, this incident today is just another sad footnote to the supposedly great career of one Roy Keane. Superb midfielder? No doubt about it. A success at all levels? Pretty much, except Internationally, where he walked out on his greatest and final chance to win a international medal. A leader of men in a manager role? Absolutely not. Keane has basically ducked out of his biggest fight yet, and left Sunderland in a huge hole.

As a supporter of the 'sleeping giant' that is Sunderland, what's left to say bar, thanks for nothing, Roy.

Maybe the new manager will bring the very popular 'Chops', Michael Chopra, back from his loan-deal exile at Cardiff



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Irish National baseball team

Irish National baseball team
Team Ireland at the European Championships, Croatia, 2000.

A nice little mention for this blog on Fox Sports

A nice little mention for this blog on Fox Sports

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