Since beating a wretched Tottenham team on the opening day of the season, Sunderland have picked up just seven points in the Premier League. After their latest defeat (a 7-1 drubbing at Goodison Park), the Black Cats find themselves in the relegation zone, although (as the Independent reports) Roy Keane is trying to take as much heat off his team as possible:
“To defend as poorly as we did was a major blow and we have got to react in a positive way. In defence of the players, I picked the wrong team. Even at 4-1 and 5-1 down, we were attacking and we left ourselves wide open, and I have to take full responsibility. That’s what being a manager is about.”
Indeed, it’s all too easy to forget that this is Roy Keane’s first full season as a football manager. Like Billy Davies, he defied the odds last season to get his team into the Premier League, got a favourable result on the opening day of the season, but now finds his team struggling to pick up the points required to stay in the top flight.
Sunderland’s match on Saturday is a proverbial six-pointer against Derby County and pits the inexperienced Keane against a battle-hardened manager in Paul Jewell. While there’s no doubting the Irishman’s ability as a player (a full trophy cabinet will vouch for that), it could be a long hard winter for a manager still learning the ropes.