Keano has lost patience with some his players and wants to ship out the non-performers as soon as possible:
“We’ve lost 22 games this season and people keep telling me we’ve had a good season, but I’m lucky to still be in a job.
That will be done this week – if not this week, then the following week.
It’s irrelevant to me whether players are under contract. If they are, you just pay them up to go because you want certain characters.
You pay them to come and you pay them to go and that’s what we’ll have to do. I’ll have a very busy week.
Every game is an opportunity to impress me, but there will be changes in the summer because I’m saying the same thing week in, week out.
I’m fed up of saying it and really bored with myself now at this stage – really, really bored.
Gordon Strachan and one or two other managers have said that if you tell a player something more than two or three times and he doesn’t do it, then get shot of him.”
So far, he’s spot on. If the players at your disposal can’t adapt to what you want them to do and cost you games, they need to go and be replaced by better players. Of course, Sunderland have more money at their disposal compared to a few other clubs around them in the table and that sort of thing helps. In fact, Keano is depending on that money being available to pay higher wages so that he can attract players of a higher caliber to Sunderland – especially considering that their local rivals pay a lot more to their players.
But is that going to be enough? Will more money be enough of an attraction compared to playing alongside better players (Newcastle and Middlesbrough) or compared to playing for teams that have a better chance of survival / success next season (again, both Newcastle and Middlesbrough)?
Keane did fantastically well in his first season as manager, bringing Sunderland up from relegation favourites to champions and promotion. The second half of this season has been their saving grace, but so far half the squad isn’t good enough to play at this level.
Clearing out the trash is just the first step. Keane then has to identify replacements, and in that respect he’ll need to look at more loan deals as well as expand his scouting network to look abroad for players. And then, he has to convince his targets that Sunderland is a more attractive proposition than several others.
It’s a tough job, but if Keane pulls it off then Sunderland fans can expect a better season next year.