SUNDERLAND 10 YEARS AGO: Keep it going, Keane hails all-round Sunderland display

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

September 14

KAV: LET’S KEEP THIS GOING!: Graham Kavanagh is relishing his Stadium of Light debut for Sunderland after netting a screamer as the Black Cats completed an away double under new boss Roy Keane.

The midfielder’s strike on the stroke of half-time gave the Wearsiders a commanding 2-0 advantage at Leeds last night.

It capped a complete performance from the former Wigan playmaker, who had a role in so many of the good things in a magnificent team performance that was topped off by Stephen Elliott’s second-half goal in a 3-0 triumph.

Kavanagh said: It was a fantastic performance from all of the lads. We felt we could open Leeds up ay any given time. I’m satisfied with my game and goal, but the whole team deserves credit.

“You also have to give credit to the gaffer. He has given us confidence – told us we’re good players who need to have faith and belief in each other. It’s been a good start for the gaffer and the new lads he brought to the club, but there is a hell of a long way to go before this job is done.

“We want to help turn the club around.”

Victory at Leeds made it two away wins since Keane took over as boss, but Sunderland must now bring that form home against Leicester on Saturday to a Stadium of Light where they have won only twice in all of 2006.

“Hopefully the Stadium of Light will be a different place to play from now on and we can make it a fortress again,” said Kavanagh. “We’ve had a couple of great results away from home and I can’t wait for Saturday now. The away fans have been magnificent and I hope we get a big crowd against Leicester now.”

Last night’s comprehensive victory catapulted Sunderland from 22nd to 14th in the Championship, only two points shy of the play-off positions.

They put together some fabulous attacking football and were a joy to watch.


Keane hails superb all-round display

“It’s all about getting the balance right,” Roy Keane had repeated over and over again in his first press conference as Sunderland boss last month.

And having brought in six new signings and played five of them in the last two games with stunning success, he was eager to re-establish that sense of balance last night by reminding everyone not to overlook the importance of the rest of the squad.

The new boys have understandably grabbed all the headlines, but the manager wants to ensure that the rest of the squad don’t feel undervalued.

Basking in the afterglow of last night’s 3-0 romp at Leeds, in which Graham Kavanagh, Stan Varga, Liam Miller, Ross Wallace and David Connolly all made key contributions, he said: “Yes the new lads have improved things and I know that there’s been a lot of talk about that.

“But the biggest plus for the club over the past few weeks was the victory over West Bromwich Albion – it gave us a massive boost – and you have to remember that was before we signed any new players.

“I want to make sure that the lads who were already here get their share of the credit too. They’ve reacted well to the changes that have happening at the club and the two players who came in last night for example, (Neill Collins and Daryl Murphy), were outstanding.”

Keane admitted he would also have to find balance, in keeping understandable euphoria in check, while at the same time not going too far the other way. “I need to keep a lid on expectations,” he mused. “I guess it’s my job now to put a damper on things.

“But I take nothing away from the players.

“When I was a player, I tell you the best feeling in the world was winning a football match.

“So I’m not going to take that away from them, they’ve got to enjoy it.

 “I’ll just remind them that the bigger picture is, we’ve had three victories – that’s great, let’s enjoy it, but tomorrow, let’s get ready for the visit of Leicester this weekend.”

There was still time last night though to savour the moment and it said a lot about Keane’s belief in his squad that he fancied his side’s chances against one of the division’s biggest clubs.

He said: “I felt it in my bones that if we just got the ball down and passed it well we would have a great chance. You never have it easy at Elland Road and the Leeds lads kept going, but we were just outstanding on the night.