herald

Wednesday 15 August 2018

Keane wanted us to hide in hoodies after loss, says ex-player

ROY Keane was once so disgusted by his team's poor performance when he was manager of Sunderland that he bought the entire squad hoodies so they could hide their faces from their fans.

Former Sunderland defender Danny Higginbotham said he experienced first-hand the Corkman's fiery temper when he was signed from Stoke to the newly-promoted Premiership side in the 2007-2008 season.

But Higginbotham (35), who also had spells with Manchester United, Derby and Southampton, had little in the way of praise for the Irish soccer legend.

He insisted that Keane (left) set the bar too high for Sunderland and expected too much of a limited team during his first season as a Premiership manager.

"Roy Keane's expectations were between 8th and 10th position in the Premiership table. It wasn't realistic. The players were not good enough to do that," said Higginbotham (inset).

After a relegation scare, Keane steered Sunderland to a respectable position of 15th.

Higginbotham recalled the final weeks of the season while on punditry duty with BT Sport for Stoke's clash with QPR.

"I remember we got safe with three games to go, so the second-to-last game of the season we were playing away to Bolton and they beat us 2-0," he said.

ashamed

"After the game, Roy Keane's come in and he's gone round every single player. He said, 'You, you're the reason I'm driving 100 miles every weekend to try and find a better player. You're a centre forward and you can't find the back of the net. You can't get on a run to save your life'.

"And the best thing was, just as he was walking out the dressing room, he turned round and said, 'Another thing, lads, before you go. This Monday I'm ordering 30 Umbro hoodies.

"We said, 'What are you on about?'

"And he said, 'Because when you do your lap of honour next week, you're going to have your hoods up over your heads because you should be ashamed.

"'You should not let the fans see you. As you walk round clapping, be ashamed of yourselves because you've had a poor season'."

hnews@herald.ie

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