Not many people in football can say they have first-hand knowledge of Roy Keane the player and Roy Keane the manager, but one of the very few is Dwight Yorke.
The former Manchester United striker shared a dressing room with Keano for four seasons at Old Trafford, before spending two and a half years under him at Sunderland, when the Irishman was managing the Black Cats.
Speaking on Wednesday’s MUTV Group Chat, Dwight reflected on how his former team-mate managed to convince him to leave Australia, where he was playing at the time, for the harsh footballing world of the English second tier.
“I went to the A-League to be their marquee player and then after one year I got a call and straight away I recognised the voice,” the 48-year-old recalled.
“I knew he had the job at Sunderland and straight away I said: ‘Skip, what are you doing calling me?’ He said: ‘How’s America? I want you to come and play at Sunderland.’ America! He thought I was in America!
“But he convinced me to come back and sign for Sunderland, and to get them their promotion into the Premier League. I relished that opportunity. I jumped on the first plane back.”
Assisted by Yorkie, Keano initially enjoyed huge success at Sunderland, in particular guiding the club back to the Premier League during the 2006/07 campaign, but resigned from his role in December 2008 with the Black Cats residing in the relegation zone.
Having witnessed Roy’s coaching methods up close and personal, Dwight believes our former skipper is an excellent manager.
“From a manager’s point of view, I have to say about Keano, I think he has all the ingredients,” said Yorke.
“When he took the job he had the respect of all the players. He had the character to be a manager, and the respect. He has everything you want in a manager. Then in his first year he was very successful and got us promoted.
“For me, when I look back, I think that Keano should be in a big managerial position today, i.e. someone like Manchester United.“
However, since leaving Sunderland, Roy has only taken charge of one other club – Ipswich Town – and has not been first-team manager of a side in over nine years. Dwight opened up on some of the reasons he believes things haven’t quite worked out for the man from Cork.
“I think Keano is his own worst enemy,” he explained. “After the years I’ve spent with him, some of the things he has done, I’m sure he will regret. Keano will live by the sword and die by the sword, but I’m sure there are things that he reflects he could have done better as manager.
“I think when you’re a manager you have to get people on your side and on the same page, even if they’re not on the same level that you thought, because you have to manage those people. I think that’s where Keano has kind of let himself down.
“It was interesting because even when we played five-a-side there were players refusing to go on his side because of the demands he was wanting from them,” Dwight continued.
“I’ve seen players shy away and not want the ball because if they give it away Keano will be on them. In the end, I had to step in and say something to him because he was putting that fear factor into players.
“That’s all well and good when you’re a player at the level of Manchester United, but when you’re a manager and those players don’t have that quality, you need to find a way to get the best out of them. Towards the end, I didn’t think he managed to do that very well.
“But I love Keano and it was a great experience playing for him. He obviously rated me highly for me to be his first signing at Sunderland, and I have a lot of respect for Keano.”