Roy: Ipswich is not a football backwater

WHILE the bust-ups, dust-ups and mess-ups seem to dominate the perception of Roy Keane the more sensitive side of him tends to go unnoticed.But it is this, coupled with the indisputable fact that he is a winner with relentless drive, rather than the fear-factor that is probably as much to do with his (relative) early managerial success.

Derek Davis

WHILE the bust-ups, dust-ups and mess-ups seem to dominate the perception of Roy Keane the more sensitive side of him tends to go unnoticed.

But it is this, coupled with the indisputable fact that he is a winner with relentless drive, rather than the fear-factor that is probably as much to do with his (relative) early managerial success.

There are possibly three things that have happened at Portman Road that helped mould Keane.

As a player he suffered relegation with Nottingham Forest under Brian Clough at Portman Road and the feeling of failure, even if not entirely down to you, can be salutary lesson never forgotten.

Then there is the 3-1 defeat at Portman Road in his early days as the Sunderland boss back in 2006.

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What sticks out for Keane is something as trivial as music being played in the dressing room before the game -ABBA as it happens - that made him realise he needed different players.

Keane recalls: “I was finding out about different characters. It wasn't the fact they were playing Abba music, it was the fact that the masseur was running the music. That was what annoyed me.

“None of the players were. You talk about leaders and if I was a player I would not let that happen so I felt then that the team needed to change.

“It was sign of where we needed to go. It is about leaders and character and that was what we needed.”

Another was when he had to make what seems an interminably long walk from the dressing room, a losing one that day, to the media suite for the post match press conference.

Along the long and narrow corridors at Portman Road are reams and reams of old newspaper cuttings, programmes, pictures of old players and basically memories of the triple success Town have enjoyed in winning the Championship, back when it was the top prize, the FA Cup and of course the UEFA Cup.

Keane a believe in tradition and history took it all in and on his return to the Stadium of Light ordered that pictures of past glory should be put up as a reminder to the current players of what they have to live up to.

It worked and Sunderland went from near the bottom to promotion as champions.

So when it was suggested he had come to a sleepy, footballing backwater Keane was quite to correct that fallacy.

He said: “I don't agree that Ipswich is a football backwater. The history of this football club is one that a lot of clubs would be happy with.

“A lot of clubs in the Championship that feel they belong in the Premiership. I bet Nottingham Forest and Leeds think they belong in the Premiership.

“This is a club with a good heritage successful back in the 1970s and 80s but it is about now and about what I do.”

One of the lessons he learned at Sunderland, and one Sir Bobby Robson has not been shy in passing on to other managers in the north-east, is being a top boss is difficult to do as a commuter.

Keane was criticised in Sunderland for continuing to live in Cheshire with his family and getting the train, or helicopter, to Wearside for training and games.

He said: “It is different scenario but I will be moving here.

“That was all part of the learning process from Sunderland.”

The 37-year-old freely admits he has spent the four and half months out of the game reflecting on his first managerial job and the good and bad and how that can help now with Ipswich.

He said: “I was happy with the team for the first and second year but probably bought too many players last summer.

“I didn't have the right characters for Sunderland but I wouldn't have changed too much as I felt we were on course to finish the job I started despite the wobble.

“I have nothing but best wishes for the football club it is a good club.

“People exaggerate about my time there. I did a decent job, not fantastic but a decent job.

“You have to remember the squad I walked into there I had an old squad and a slow squad.

“I was lucky to be Sunderland manager and I hope I left my mark there as I hope I make my mark with Ipswich.”

For Keane, and for Town, the good thing about history is it is always in the making and as a new era dawns he can use the past to help Town go forward.

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