SAFC 10 YEARS ON: Keane’s new chapter for club, Whitehead’s delight

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

SMILES BETTER!: Roy Keane was today unveiled as Sunderland manager in a major coup for the club.

Chants of “Keano, Keano” rang around the Stadium of Light yesterday as the former Republic of Ireland international took his seat in the stands.

And his new charges rose to his arrival and the rallying call of fans with a 2-0 win over promotion favourites West Brom.

Fans today spoke of their hopes that Keane could emulate, as a manager, what he did in a glittering 12-year playing career.

They were echoed by Quinn in what he hopes will be “a fantastic” new chapter in Sunderland Football Club’s proud history.”

Let’s all support and enjoy one of football’s true greats.

LIFT-OFF!: Roy Keane today took charge at Sunderland in what club bosses have called “a new chapter in the club’s rich and proud history.”

The Irishman has signed a three-year deal, reportedly worth £6million, but faces a race against time to sign new players ahead of Thursday’s transfer deadline.

Keane, 35, was being unveiled as the club’s new boss at a press conference this afternoon.

He has almost a fortnight to get to know his new players and his first match in charge will be at Derby County’s Pride Park a week on Saturday. His first home match will be the visit of Leicester City a week later.

The ex-Manchester United and Republic of Ireland skipper was in the stands yesterday as Sunderland romped to a 2-0 win over promotion favourites West Brom.

That win lifted the Black Cats off the foot of the Championship table and fans are confident Keane can lead the club up the league to challenge for promotion to the Premiership.

Chairman Niall Quinn said Keane’s appointment was proof “we mean business.”

He added: “This represents a major coup for our football club. The fact that one of the most influential figures in world football is willing to come and help unlock the massive potential here should make all Sunderland fans very happy and excited for the future.

“Roy Keane’s standards of professionalism are legendary and his desire and determination to success are precisely what this club requires.

“Let’s all support and enjoy one of football’s true greats as he embarks on what we all hope will be a fantastic chapter in Sunderland’s Football Club’s rich and proud history.”

Quinn laughed off suggestions of a lingering feud with Keane, who famously branded Quinn “A muppet” and “a coward” in his autobiography for failing to back him over his tirade at Republic of Ireland manager Mick McCarthy at the team’s 2002 World Cup training camp.

Quinn said: “All managers and chairmen have rows. We just got all ours out of the way over the last few years.”

Quinn is convinced he has got the right man and, after a single meeting with players at training on Sunday, he believes Keane has already had a major effect on attitudes in the Sunderland camp.

“When Roy was introduced to the players, you could almost see them standing an inch or two taller thinking: “We are going to be working with that man, that is incredible.

“Possibly, the players are a bit scared. I hope they are, not in the sense they will underperform but that they will give their all when they go training.

“You only have to spend a short amount of time in Roy’s company to realise just how impressive he is.

“It was virtually a case of him interviewing us rather than the other way round.

“He has immense football knowledge, desire and passion and, without doubt, a world-class attraction.

“There are many people shaking their heads wondering how we have managed to pull it off. In a way, I am feeling like that too.”

Quinn added that no decision had been made on whether Brian Kidd would be appointed as Kean’s number two, although Sunderland confirmed Leicester City’s Academy chief Tony Loughlan would become the clubs head coach.

IT’S GOING TO BE GREAT!: Whitehead thrilled by bright future.

Dean Whitehead hopes he can learn from one of the greats.

The Sunderland midfielder scored his side’s first goal in a 2-0 win over West Brom yesterday under the watchful gaze of new manager Roy Keane.

And with the former Manchester United skipper taking over at the Stadium of Light today, Whitehead is excited about the Irishman’s reign.

He said: “I can’t wait to start working with him. We had a meeting on Sunday when he introduced himself to us and it was great to be with a legend of the game.

“For a midfielder, it is the perfect appointment as a manager. He has been one of the best midfielders in the world and if you can’t learn from him then you can’t earn from anyone.

“I always loved watching him as a player – he was some player and he still has an aura about him. He was a great leader and hopefully I can get that into my game.”

Whitehead says Keane’s presence yesterday was just one of the reasons why the Black Cats got at West Brom with a vigour they have lacked for most of this season.

The 24-year-old said: We went into the game wanting to prove to a lot of people what we could do. We’ve had such a poor start to the season, but we’ve set some standards now and anything less than that is not good enough. The new manager will want to see a winning mentality, like he had himself. He’ll expect total commitment in games and in training and we have to rise to that.”

Keane now has the best part of two weeks to prepare his side for their game at Derby on September 9, but Whitehead may have to wait to get to work with the new manager.

He took a painful blow to his left shin against the Baggies and was hobbling badly when he left the Stadium of Light. “It’s very sore and I’ll be in for some treatment, “ he said. “I don’t want to miss too much training particularly with the new manager here, but it might take a couple of days to settle down.

“It was very sore when it happened but when you are playing well and winning, you don’t want to come off.”

Whitehead’s first goal since January came direct from a corner that had crossed the line before it was cleared.

He added: “I was sure straight away that it had gone across the line, but the linesman took a moment to react and I was wondering if he’d give it.

“It was a relief to see the goal given. We’d missed a few chances and I was wondering if it wasn’t going to go for us, but we got what we deserved and it was important to get that first win.”