SUNDERLAND 10 YEARS AGO: Keane: Give Mick a big hand, let's not be nearly men
Here's what the Echo was reporting on SAFC 10 years ago today.
KEANE: GIVE MICK A BIG HAND:
Boss expects good reception from fans
ROY Keane say he expects former boss Mick McCarthy and the ex-Sunderland players he brings to the Stadium of Light this Saturday, to get a good reception from the fans.
The Sunderland manager’s massive fall-out with then Republic of Ireland chief McCarthy in the 2002 World Cup is well documented.
But both men have moved on since then and drew a line under their infamous bust-up when the two sides met at Molineux in November.
Keane told the Echo today: “It was all put to bed in November as far as I’m concerned.
“I just find the whole thing boring now.
“I hope Mick gets a good reception because he did a good job here.
“It didn’t work out for him in the Premiership last season, but that’s probably because he didn’t have much money to spend.
“I also hope that former players like Gary Breen get a good response because I think all former players deserve that when they return to their old clubs.”
Keane will go into the game with a mixed bag on the injury front.
Injury doubt Jonny Evans has been cleared to resume training although fellow defender Danny Simpson, who took a knock on the knee in the win over Cardiff at the weekend has yet to train.
Dwight Yorke missed the game against Bluebirds with a calf injury and has also yet to train this week.
While his international team-mate Carlos Edwards is making excellent progress towards the return.
Keane said: Jonny should be fine after us having given him a couple of days rest, Danny’s yet to train.
“It’s not too serious, but then again Stephen Wright has been flying in training.
“Dwight has not trained yet, but he is on his way back and I know he’s itching to play again.
“As for Carlos, he’s getting there.
“Saturday’s game might just come a day or two early for him, but we’ll look at that over the next few days.”
CUNNINGHAM: MAKE SURE WE’RE NOT THE NEARLY MEN
VETERAN defender Kenny Cunningham says Sunderland must use fear of becoming the Championship’s “nearly men” to spur them on to promotion.
The experienced centre-half has been delighted with progress in an unbeaten 14-game league run stretching back to the start of 2007.
But Cunningham has been in the game long enough to know that it can all quickly go wrong and he wants that fear of failure to help drive the team on.
The Irishman told the Echo: “This group of players has put so much into the season and worked so hard, we now want something tangible to show for it.
“We’ve been getting a lot of praise recently and a lot of pats on the back, but that will mean very little if our season fizzles out.
“We don’t want to become a team that nearly made automatic promotion to the Premiership, or that nearly made it up via the play-offs, as has happened to one or two clubs in recent years.
“At the end of the season, ideally, we want to be able to say we won promotion automatically and if that doesn’t happen, then we will have to dig deep and make sure we get there through the play-offs.
“Because you don’t get any prizes for having great runs that end with nothing gained.”
Sunderland have taken a massive 36 of the 42 points available in 2007 to crank up the pressure on the top two – Derby and Birmingham.
But former Birmingham defender Cunningham says Sunderland have to keep on going right up to the last minute of the game to make sure they take advantage of any slip-ups from the top two.
“We’re focusing on the job in hand,” he said.
“We’re coming up to a key part of the season and no-one’s looking behind these games.
“The last month of the season is going to be massive for everyone at the football club and we know we just have to keep the pressure on the two teams above us.”