SUNDERLAND 10 YEARS AGO: Keane won’t reveal targets, Caldwell wants bigger crowds

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

KEANE KEEPS A LID ON TARGETS:

Solskjaer links played down by Sunderland boss

ROY KEANE today insisted that he will not get dragged into talking about potential targeted ahead of the January transfer window.

Sunderland were linked with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer this morning, although rumours about the veteran Manchester United striker have been circulating for weeks.

And in recent days the Black Cats have been linked with players as fanciful as Real Madrid’s David Beckham to ones as obscure as Blackpool’s Wes Hoolaghan, with players like Manchester United’s Alan Smith and Guiseppe Rossi in between.

But Keane, who last week confirmed an interest in Arsenal striker Anthony Stokes, who is impressing on loan at Falkirk, said he does not want to go down the road of talking about every single player who gets mentioned in connection a move to the club.

He said: “As far as Stokes goes, there’s been no contact made by us with Arsenal at this time.

“Ole is a good friend of mine who I talk to from time to time, but we haven’t discussed a move.

“I don’t really want to get into talking about every rumour that goes around.

“Last week, for instance, I was strongly linked with a player I’ve got no interest in.

“And as far as I can see, a lot of this is just agents talking up potential moves to get themselves an early Christmas present.

“There are plenty of good agents out there who do a good job in representing the interests of their players but that are some that just like to talk their players up in the hope of getting moves elsewhere.

I don’t want to go down that road.

“If I’m interested in a player, the club will go through the right channels.

“I’ll ring up the manager of the club concerned and speak directly to him.

“I think that’s the right way to do it.

“If you go direct, you are speaking to the person in the position to make the decisions.

“You can get a straight answer and you know where you are going from the start. I am looking for players to bring in next month, but I don’t want to talk about them until the deals are done.”

CALDWELL SEEKS CHRISTMAS BOOS FROM CROWDS:

SUNDERLAND skipper Steve Caldwell hopes the missing thousands of Black Cats fans will soon be persuaded back to the Stadium of Light.

The Wearsiders have the best average attendance in the Championship, but their stuttering start to the season has left more than 20,000 empty seats for many home games.

A run of six games without defeat has left Roy Keane’s men only three points short of the play-off places and Caldwell is hoping festive home matches, against Leeds on Boxing Day and Preston on December 30, will attract morale-boosting crowds after last weekend’s 2-1 victory over Luton Town was watched by 30, 445 fans.

The caption said: “If we can get crowds in the 30,000s on a regular basis then it will be a massive help.

“I’ve said frequently that playing in front of a packed stadium acts as a huge incentive to us, and it is very intimidating for the opposition.

“The stadium isn’t full at the moment and, while 25,000-plus people is still a good attendance in this league, when those people are spread around a 49,000-seater stadium, it looks half-empty. So if we can keep our run going as we go into the Christmas programme, I hope that we will have some bumper crowds for the Leeds and Preston games.”

Sunderland have won their last three games without being at their fluent best. Trips to Burnley and Crystal Palace will test their ability to continue grinding out results.

Caldwell said: “We’re not playing at the top of our form at the moment – anyone can see that. But the important thing is that we’re winning matches and taking points.

“In a way, it is very satisfying that we are playing scrappily and yet still winning. Everyone knows that if we play fluently and move the ball the way we know we can, we will beat anybody – but if you are going to be successful, you have to learn to take points even when you are playing below your maximum.

“I enjoy scrappy games because I feel that I earn my money in those matches – leading us through and helping us grind out results.