SUNDERLAND 10 YEARS AGO: Fun in the sun, Keane the role model

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

IT’LL BE FUN IN THE SUN!:

Spirits high as Cats jet off on training break

LIAM LAWRENCE created the goal that got Sunderland back to winning ways, and admitted it would make the international break a lot happier.

 Roy Keane has taken is squad away for some sunshine training in Portugal and they jetted out of the North East yesterday on the back of a morale boosting 1-0 home win over Sheffield Wednesday.

 Lawrence’s cross set up Grant Leadbitter’s winner to give Keane his first Stadium of Light victory as Sunderland boss – and keeping the 14th-placed Wearsiders only five points behind second-placed Birmingham.

 The winger said: “It was a relief to everyone. We needed the win and I would not have liked being around the gaffer for the next two weeks if we hadn’t got the points. We deserved it. We dominated the game and created a lot of chances.

 “At half-time, I was wondering if it was going to be one of those days because we weren’t getting a break in the box. But the gaffer told us to keep plugging away and we’d get our rewards.”

 Lawrence was starting for the first time under Keane, who made six changes to his starting line-up at the weekend after losing at Ipswich seven days earlier.

 The former Mansfield Town flankman said: “I don’t usually get nervous before games, but I was feeling it a bit on Saturday.

 “I’d not started under the gaffer and it was important for me to do well. It was pleasing to be involved in the goal. I tried to get plenty of crosses in and Grant had got into the box a few times without the ball quite breaking for him.

 “He deserved the goal because he worked very hard and it has given us a massive win.”

 The Black Cats will not be allowed to put their feet up during Keane’s European camp as they prepare for back-to-back away games at Preston and Stoke after the international break.

ROY’S MY IDEAL ROLE MODEL:

Hero Leadbitter learning all the time from new Sunderland manager

GRANT Leadbitter is eager to learn as much as he can from Sunderland manager Roy Keane.

 Midfielder Leadbitter’s well-taken winning goal against Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday capped an excellent return to the side for the home-grown youngster – his first start under Keane.

 Now he hopes to stake his claim for a regular starting spot – Graham Kavanagh, the man he replaced on Saturday, being out for six weeks – and he feels he can only benefit from working for Keane, undoubtedly one of the British Isles’ greatest midfield talents in recent times.

 Leadbitter said: “He has only been here a month and I have learnt so much already.

 “Every day I learn something.

 “If you can’t learn from someone like him, you shouldn’t even be in the game.

 “He was a hero of mine as a kid. You always watch players in your position and he was one of the best in the world.

 “He just teaches you it is a simple game, so keep it simple.

 “During training, he will often come over and have a chat. Because of who he is and the type of man he is, you have to listen.

 “If you didn’t, you would be on the wrong side of him and I don’t think anyone would want that. Just his presence makes you want to perform; even in training.”

 Leadbitter – a fan as well as a player – has felt the impact of Keane, on and off the park.

 “He has brought a massive lift to the club,” said the midfielder. “I used to come in the Reidy era when the place was full every week and the team was winning.

 “The atmosphere feels very similar now. Hopefully those good times are coming back.

 “You get the feeling it is nearly there.”