SAFC 10 YEARS AGO: Caldwell goes after Keane rift

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Here’s what the Echo was reporting on SAFC 10 years ago.

CALDWELL SEALS BURNLEY SWITCH

Clarets splash out initial £200,000 for centre-back

FORMER Sunderland captain Steve Caldwell joined Burnley last night in a transfer-deadline busting £400,000 deal which ended a rift between himself and manager Roy Keane.

He has signed a three-and-a-half year deal, with £200,000 being paid up front and an eventual £200,000 to be paid in add-ons.

Watford had offered Caldwell a chance to get back in the Premiership, but only on a loan basis – and that did not suit either the player or Sunderland.

The Scotland international drove to Lancashire this morning after a deal was agreed just minutes before the transfer window closed at midnight.

Burnley had led the chase for the 26-year-old after contract talks between Sunderland and the player broke down.

But it looked as though both Burnley and Coventry City would be disappointed after Caldwell and his agent were unable to agree terms with either club, after Sunderland gave him permission to leave.

Caldwell was out of contract in the summer and could have left on a lucrative Bosman free transfer if he had allowed his contract to expire.

At the start of this week, that looked more than likely to be the case, leaving Caldwell with the prospect of a long and potentially uncomfortable stay on Wearside, waiting for June to come along.

But it appears that after thinking it over, Caldwell decided that it was in the best interests to make a fresh start and he agreed just nine minutes before the midnight deadline.

The centre-half is almost fit again after picking up a thigh strain and the first thing he did after signing was to go to the treatment room for assessment.

Manager Steve Cotterill will hope that Caldwell will be available for the Clarets’ Championship trip to relegation strugglers QPR on Saturday.

But his chances are rated no more than 50-50 and if he is a doubt he will not be risked for the game.

The move brings to an end a rift between player and manager at Sunderland which threatened to become difficult.

Caldwell was stripped of the captaincy last week by Keane, who was angered at contract demands made by the player’s agent. And it quickly became clear that as far as the manager was concerned, it was in Caldwell’s best interests to go.

He said: “I never wanted Steve to go and he wasn’t for sale, but things were done that I don’t want to go into and after receiving a bid from Burnley I decided it was in his best interests to go.”

I’VE ONLY JUST BEGUN

ROY KEANE’S message to those who think he has already transformed the club is: “You ain’t seen nothing yet!”

The Sunderland manager has made massive changes since taking over at the Stadium of Light at the end of August last year.

But the Manchester United legend says he has only just begun on his quest to make the club a force in English football again.

He said: “People say I’ve made lots of changes, but I really haven’t even started. There’s so much I want to do to get this club in tip-top shape and have a cutting edge to it – be it the first-team , the reserves or the kids.

“I want people to sit up and take notice of Sunderland.”

Keane’s arrival early in the season was the catalyst for a dramatic upswing in Sunderland’s fortunes.

When he took over the Black Cats were next to bottom of the Championship with just three points from their first five games.

But under Keane they have taken 44 points from 25 games, and currently stand ninth in the table just two points outside the play-off places and sox away from an automatic promotion slot.

The manager said: “There have been disappointments, but there have also been a lot of plusses – hopefully there will be a lot more plusses than disappointments still to come. I’ve had to chop and change since coming here and I’m happy with how it’s going but there will be a lot more changes to come.”

Keane has completed the signings of five players in the transfer window – Carlos Edwards from Luton, Anthony Stokes from Arsenal, Marton Fulop from Tottenham, and Manchester United duo Jonny Evans and Danny Simpson on loan.

Through the exit door have gone Steve Caldwell, Ben Alnwick and Chris Brown.

Keane said: “I’m pleased with the players I’ve added to the squad and happy with what I’ve got now to go on to the end of the season and hopefully do well in the league.”