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07th Jan 2024

Roy Keane on “utter madness” FA Cup moment that proved so costly

Patrick McCarry

“It was game over.”

Roy Keane was paired with former Newcastle and Spurs winger Chris Waddle, this weekend, to do some punditry with ITV for the FA Cup third round.

The former Premier League rivals joined Mark Pougatch at the Stadium of Light for what ended up being a routine 3-0 win for Newcastle over Sunderland. A Dan Ballard own goal had the Toon 1-0 up at the break before, a minute into the second half, Miguel Almiron nicked the ball from defender Pierre Ekwah and set up Alexander Isak’s handy finish.

Isak added a second, and his side’s third, after a final flurry of resistance from the Black Cats. Keane, who managed Sunderland from 2006 to 2008, bemoaned his former side being caught out by a footballing trend that is not going anywhere soon.

Now managed by ex-Rangers boss Michael Beale, Sunderland tried for much of the cup tie to play the ball out from the back. It is a tactic made successful by the likes of Manchester City and Liverpool, and one which most Premier League sides have given a whirl – Arsenal and Manchester United have both signed goalkeepers [David Raya and Andrè Onana] who are more renowned for their distribution than shot-stopping.

While Keane is open to the tactic being used in the right circumstances, and by the right players, he bemoaned Ekwah for trying it in the wrong place, time and in the wrong circumstances. He told ITV:

“They were still in the game then, start of the second half, it’s 2-0, game over… Sunderland gifted some goals away, which doesn’t help.”

“Listen,” Roy Keane added, “they are young players and they are only going to learn from their own mistakes but when I see defenders trying to beat players, especially in their own box, I just think it’s madness.

“You’re under pressure, you’re trying to get back [in the game]. Ekwah is not trying to pass the ball, he is trying to beat him. Trying to beat him. Newcastle were at it, they were putting Sunderland under pressure, then this. It’s game over. Young players, listen, they have to learn the hard way but, utter madness from the defenders.

“The amount of goals we see now from defenders taking chances – all weekend we’ve seen it and we have again, today. Madness.”

Chris Waddle adds to Roy Keane comments

Adding to what Roy Keane said about the Sunderland tactics, Chris Waddle said he was not sure if the Mackems “knew how to play it” safe. “They get a bit of success with the tactic of getting it down and playing it, in the Championship, but we saw what a Premier League side could do today.”

Michael Beale reflected on the local derby cup exit to Sky Sports. “Life got really real for everyone in our young team today, so we need to use that and go to work,” he said.

“If we felt we were closer, or individuals felt they were closer to playing at that level regularly, then today was a bit of an eye opener.”

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