Roy Keane has done his hardman image considerable damage – he’s brought in a psychologist to help inspire his Sunderland players to success.
But that’s not the worst part of it actually – he’s brought in the same person who was appointed by Steve McClaren to help the England players, Bill Beswick (he was also at Manchester United, apparently.
Actually, we shouldn’t be so harsh. You need an edge in professional football and if Beswick can give Sunderland players that edge over their rivals, then so be it. Brum, Boro, Bolton, Fulham, Reading and Newcastle might laugh, but at the end of the season if Sunderland can finish ahead of two of these six teams, it’ll be Keano (and Beswick) doing all the laughing.
“I enjoyed chatting to Bill very much when I was a player and he has been in once or twice to talk to the players.
We try different things on different occasions and the high jumper Steve Smith has also been in a couple of times and given talks about the mental side of the game. You’ve sometimes got to get out of the box and think a bit differently to other people. I’m very open-minded.”
When a manager goes on record as saying that he’s ‘very open-minded’, it’s a failed attempt to stave off criticism that he’s getting desperate.
“You’ve got to try things and you just hope the players plug into it. Some people might want to see Bill one to one, others don’t and they won’t see him again. I generally think the players enjoy it, though. We don’t tie them into a seat and make them listen for 90 minutes; it’s all very casual.”
And then this gem:
“The position at United was also very casual. If you wanted to go to see Bill you went to see him. Some players never saw him, I saw him once or twice but I often couldn’t get in because Gary Neville was always in there with him.”
Best of luck to Keane and Sunderland (and to Gary Neville as well – will the Neviller play for United this season?) – hopefully they can stay up for a go at mid-table security next season.