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Sunderland appoint new manager; reason on Roy Keane’s rejection revealed

Sunderland appoint Alex Neil as their new manager, replacing Lee Johnson, while the reason on Roy Keane’s rejection is revealed.

Neil will take charge of the Black Cats for Saturday’s League One match at AFC Wimbledon after an agreement was reached on Thursday night for the Scot to come into the club.

The 40-year-old former Norwich and Preston manager will signs a contract until the end of next season after all parties reached an agreement on Thursday night.

The League One club switched their attentions to Neil after talks between Roy Keane and the Black Cats broke down, leading to the Irishman turning the job down.

Sunderland were said to have been extremely interested in Keane returning to the club after sacking Lee Johnson following a 6-0 loss at Bolton.

Neil, who was sacked as the Lilywhites boss last March, has experience of getting sides promotion, having guided Norwich to the Premier League in 2015.

Before Norwich, he had spent two years at Scottish side Hamilton Academical.


Sunderland AFC is delighted to announce the appointment of Alex Neil as Head Coach.

The 40-year-old has agreed a rolling 12-month contract and he will be joined at the Stadium of Light by Assistant Head Coach Martin Canning.

Neil oversaw the team’s final pre-match preparations at the Academy of Light on Friday morning and will take charge of his first game on Saturday when Sunderland travel to AFC Wimbledon.

A promotion-winning player and manager, Neil enjoyed a 16-year playing career before managing Hamilton Academical to Play-Off success during his first full season at the helm.

He joined Norwich City in January 2015 and top-flight football once again beckoned, as he led the Canaries to 17 wins from 25 games and clinched promotion to the Premier League following a Play-Off Final victory over Middlesbrough at Wembley Stadium.

After leaving Carrow Road in March 2017, Neil returned to management with Preston North End ahead of the 2017-18 season and he guided the Lilywhites to what remains the club’s highest league finish since 2009 during his four-year tenure at Deepdale.

Neil said: “It is a privilege to be Head Coach of Sunderland AFC. Everything that I saw from the players this morning made me really confident and gave me belief, so what we now need to do is replicate that on a matchday – when it matters – under scrutiny and under pressure. Our task is to try and win as many games as we possibly can and at this moment in time we are focused on this season and this season alone.”

Kristjaan Speakman added: “Throughout his career, Alex has demonstrated that he can make an immediate and lasting impact. He expressed a clear vision on how he wants to take the team forward, which strongly aligns with our core principals, and we firmly believe that he can influence performances and results in the short term. We are grateful to our supporters for their patience throughout what has undoubtedly been a challenging period and thank Mike Dodds and Michael Proctor for overseeing our first-team programme in the interim. Now, our immediate priority is to support Alex and the team to ensure we deliver promotion this season and reward the faith continuously placed in us by our supporters.”

The club’s first-choice target Roy Keane was in charge at Sunderland from 2006 to 2008, the former Man Utd and Republic of Ireland midfielder’s first managerial role.

He guided the club to promotion as Championship title-winners in his first season in the job, and then a 15th-placed Prem finish in the following campaign before resigning in December 2008.

A report has revealed why Roy Keane has turned down the opportunity to return to management with Sunderland.

He is said to have at least two interviews with Sunderland sporting director Kristjaan Speakman and The Athletic reports he was offered the job on Wednesday.

However, it’s stated that the pundit wouldn’t be taking the job, with ‘contractual issues’ contributing to its collapse.

It was hoped that the 50-year-old would reignite the club’s promotion push, with Keane a popular choice.

But Sunderland will now turn to alternative candidates, including Grant McCann and Alex Neil.

Keane is expected to continue in his TV punditry roles, meaning more bants and groans with Sky Sports and ITV.

Journalist James Copley highlights why it’s so important that Sunderland’s owners come out and explain what’s going on with the club and who’s making the big decisions, as that is still very much unclear and the form is inconsistent – leading to fears of a potential five season in the third tier. despite the club sitting 4th after 31 games played.

The reason as to the concern from Sunderland fans stems over former part-owner of the club Charlie Methven being present for the club’s away trip to Cheltenham Town, raising questions as to how much of a say he still has at the club.

Assistant Editor Richard Mennear has revealed what he and some fans have been told the club will do in the near future.

He said: “Obviously, there are still minor shareholders in the club so yeah, obviously, they are involved. There’s going to be a level of involvement in that.

“We’ve been told, fans have been told, that in terms of the day-to-day running of the club and long-term vision and things like that, that it’s very much Kyril Louis-Dreyfus’ gig.

“The fact that they still have that link with the previous regime publicly, you know, being at games and things like that, doesn’t help [and] isn’t helping.”

This Is Futbol said via their blog: “Ever since Kyril Louis-Dreyfus took over Sunderland last year, there has been no clarity over how much of the club he owns and what other investors or people of interest own of the club, leaving Black Cats fans unsure where to direct their annoyance at when the club is not being run very well, for example during this managerial search.

“It would be no surprise if Sunderland fans were desperate to find out the inner workings of their club and who has what power behind the scenes, as that could say a lot about the direction Sunderland are heading, and whether they do still hold close ties with a previous regime that was very much disliked towards the end by fans.”

Fans gave their reaction as Sunderland appoint Alex Neil as their new manager while the reason on Roy Keane’s rejection is revealed…

@cameronflaws: Alex Neil’s job is to just get us up, even if it means finishing 6th and winning the play offs, but if we don’t go up (which I don’t think we will) he escapes most of the blame for me as he will have had two months in charge #SAFC

@PhillipJudson: I’m probably in the minority but I’m more annoyed it’s taken 2 weeks to appoint Alex Neil than anything. Quite happy with him. Keane for me was based purely on nostalgia and would have been a gamble. It has shown that the club is still a shambles. Ownership questions need asked.

@braddfearnleyy: Unbelievable appointment I think he’s what we need to take us forward. Very happy inwards and upwards I hope.

@Lewis_h__: Class appointment but the club messed about for 2 weeks

@RJPalliser10: Are we the 1st club in history to announce a manager as the new head coach with a photo of him taking training earlier in the day?

@88NTaylor: Given the nature of the sacking of LJ, not having a replacement ready, the ‘patient approach’ shambles of 1st & 2nd interviews all whilst the team were leaderless, every journo announcing it yesterday & then the delays today, this unveiling is rather fitting. Still, haway Alex!!

@olihargreavess: BIG appointment this. Neil-ball in the third tier is a huge coup from Sunderland #SAFC

@TerryHobkirk: You waited until 8.42pm?

@GARP1967: 👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼 Our communications team have woken up at last!! And about bloody time, too. Worst kept secret in football, this.

@dezzysafc07: Happy with that, good appointment, has promotions under his belt and plays a system that will suit our players, think he will do well

@abbo1973: Welcome, think he’ll be decent, hopefully gives the whole club a kick up the arse because the last 2 weeks

@andrew_wright97: I really hope Neil is a success as for Christ sake I just want to get out of this godforsaken shit show of a league. But until there’s significant restructuring and Charlie Methven is still intervening new candidates and attending games will anything really change #SAFC

@DaveyPalmer1: Amid the initial euphoria then crash back down to earth with regards to whether Roy Keane was coming back to @SunderlandAFC , Alex Neil could turn out to be an excellent appointment. Let’s hope he can get us out of this damned league #safc #Sunderland

@dunnage101: Alex Neil announcement just come through on Twitter on a Friday night before tomorrows game, no press conference, is it just me that finds it disrespectful to the man? Says a lot about the people running our club, on top of the shambolic way the whole process was conducted #safc

@Turner83AndyL Now the appt has been “officially” made, time to focus on the team. No distractions for the team, fans and club. Answers of what went on MUST be answered but not at the expense of trying to win games.Those questions can be asked by the RAWA at the right time. Ha’way the lads. #safc

@_GraemeAtkinson: Sunderland waste two weeks flirting with Roy Keane who was wrapped up in lucrative TV deals to then give the job to a guy who was free, available and has seemingly been happy to take training before completing deal. Best of luck Alex Neil, come on in the waters lovely. #SAFC

@SAFCKiwi: I reckon the #SAFC social media admin has quit after all the bollocks and disappointment of the last two weeks, and no-one else knows the login details to announce Neil.

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