Sunderland chairman Niall Quinn holds clear the air talks with Roy Keane
10 March 2009 12:39
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Quinn has spoken to his one-time Irish international colleague after Keane broke his own silence to hit out at the club following his abrupt resignation from the Wearside club three months ago.
His diplomacy should ensure there is no repeat of their rift followed Keane' s exit from the 2002 World Cup finals that was only repaired when the former Manchester United skipper was persuaded to join Sunderland in August 2006.
Keane blamed Sunderland's majority shareholder, Irish-American businessman Ellis Short and relations with Quinn for his decision to quit Sunderland and his criticism threatened to leave a bitter aftertaste.
But Quinn has taken the initiative in a bid to mend his relationship with Keane.
"We've had a conversation since he's left and all was fine," Quinn said.
"There were a couple of things that I think he wasn't too happy with, things that should have been done, but that's all history now. He's chomping at the bit to get back into football." He added: "I wasn't involved in what went on, I wouldn't say â Oh you should have done this, you should have done that'. I think there were times, you know, we gave a couple of last-minute goals away and that could've changed everything.
"Football is such a fine line, and I don't think you can suddenly define it. I think Roy is Roy and probably for himself he would alter one or two things. I'm sure it's only a matter of time before he gets back in to the game." Keane guided Sunderland to promotion in his first season in charge but left when the club was spiralling deep into relegation trouble.
"Roy had standards and demands that were exceptional, and some players came to the front and warmed to the task," Quinn added. "Others didn't and of course those kind of players are always going to look for excuses.
"Roy was a colossal influence on players and if Roy Keane told you to do something, then you did it. We got to great success with that, I think we just had a difficult two or three weeks which culminated a lot of pressure, and culminated in Roy saying 'Hey, OK, I don't hang around somewhere for six or seven months and not get what I want out of it'." Quinn placed coach Ricky Sbragia in charge following Keane's resignation and insisted it would be a colossal achievement to keep Sunderland up this season.
"I think Ricky came in for those few games before he got the job permanently and it was amazing. We just felt that he brought exactly what was needed at that time," Quinn said "Naturally there was a state of shell-shock around Roy's time, and we had a difficult period running up to that day he left.
"We were really at a crossroads when it could all have gone horribly wrong for us, and Ricky calmed the situation down and brought his professionalism in which was a different type to Roy's.
"Different ways in performance, Ricky got people smiling again. He got the players to believe in themselves.
"I think if we do stay up it will be a colossal achievement by him to come in to a team who were in the bottom three that had just lost three home games.
"If you just think about it economically, [if] we know that we're staying up then Ricky would've been responsible for that so we would reward him, or be inclined over the next three years at where the club is going. I would love nothing more than to reward him with a big old contract.
"There's great heart and passion, we have plenty of home games to rack the points up, and some away games against our rivals. That's what Sunderland is all about, it's about getting stuck in when times are adverse and feel that it 's going to be tough.
"That's when Sunderland people stick their chests out and that's the spirit that we try and get through to the football players," he added.