Roy Keane believes Sunderland’s hierarchy should “have a good look at themselves” as their search for a seventh permanent boss since his departure continues.
Keane’s own reign at the Stadium of Light came to an end after a little less than 27 months in December 2008 after his relationship with owner and chairman Ellis Short deteriorated.
Asked if he was surprised by head coach Dick Advocaat’s departure on Sunday, the Republic of Ireland’s assistant manager, speaking to the media in Dublin on Tuesday, said: “No.”
Asked why not, he replied: “It’s Sunderland, isn’t it? It’s a brilliant club, but I don’t know, I really can’t comment on why different managers have left or have been sacked.
“But people in the background probably need to have a good look at themselves.”
Asked further if he was referring to people who were at the club during his spell on Wearside, he said: “Yes”, before adding with a smile: “If they’d let me alone, I’d probably still be there now and I wouldn’t be having to chat to you.”
Keane’s comments came as Short continued to assess the potential field for a key appointment which could ultimately come down to hard cash.
The Black Cats have identified Sam Allardyce as the leading candidate for the vacancy.
However, while they do have a back-up plan should the 60-year-old former West Ham boss resist their overtures – and the noises coming from those close to him have been mixed in recent days – money could yet determine which way they go.
It is understood that Short, rather than sporting director Lee Congerton, is driving the recruitment process with the future of the man employed to provide the head coach with the players to establish the club as a fixture in the Barclays Premier League uncertain to say the least.
Congerton is understood to be working his notice after growing frustrated with the financial restrictions under which he has had to work, and both the funds the chairman feels able to allocate for squad strengthening in January and the retention or otherwise of Congerton’s role – whether he occupies the position or not – could be significant factors for the new incumbent.
Former Sunderland defender Allardyce has already attracted support from the club’s fans, but he is in a position of strength having indicated he wanted to take time out of the game following his exit from Upton Park at the end of last season.
He is currently in Spain, but will return later this month, when he is scheduled to embark upon a tour to promote his autobiography.
Allardyce, who will inevitably be linked with most Premier League jobs when they become available given his track record, can perhaps afford to pick and choose and has already indicated that when he does return, it will be for the right opportunity and not necessarily the next one.
Burnley’s Sean Dyche, who has publicly distanced himself from the opening at the Stadium of Light, is also held in high regard by the hierarchy on Wearside, but crucially his appointment would involve a significant compensation package and that may not work in his favour. David Moyes and Nigel Pearson have also been linked with the role.