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Decision time for Roy Keane as Sunderland offer shock opportunity to return to management

Roy Keane. Credit: Getty Images

Daniel McDonnell

Roy Keane is strongly considering a sensational return to football management with Sunderland, the club where he started his short-lived career in the dugout.

Reports in the north-east of England say Keane has been offered the chance to take over the League One promotion-chasers on a short-term deal until the end of the season.

He would have to step away from his high-profile punditry roles with Sky and ITV to step into the vacancy that was created by the sacking of Lee Johnson.

There is a Sky link at Sunderland, however, as David Jones – the presenter of Super Sunday coverage – is a non-executive director on the Black Cats’ board.

Keane has held initial discussions with Sunderland about the post and a quick decision will be needed given they are in the midst of a fight to get out of the third tier.

The Corkman’s first managerial season saw him lift Sunderland to promotion from the Championship in the 2006/’07 campaign, but he resigned in December 2008 with the club established in the Premier League. Keane did not see eye-to-eye with the Black Cats’ new owner Ellis Short and left with the club sitting 18th in the top flight.

The 50-year-old has been out of management since his inglorious 20-month stay at Ipswich ended in January 2011.

He has since served as assistant with Ireland, Aston Villa and Nottingham Forest and has been open about his desire to return to the dugout as a number one.

However, he recently admitted that he might have to commit permanently to the punditry field if he didn’t secure a managerial gig soon and voiced his frustration at being overlooked for a number of roles. In that context, his commitment to returning to the front line will now be tested if there is a job offer.

Sunderland are third in the League One table, with a 6-0 defeat at Bolton Wanderers last weekend the final straw for Johnson after a disappointing run.

They still have realistic expectations to go up this term as they sit two points behind second-placed Wigan Athletic, albeit having played three games more. Rotherham are top, five points ahead of Sunderland, who have been in League One since suffering their second consecutive relegation in 2018.

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