League One latest: Former Aston Villa striker Gabby Agbonlahor launches blistering attack on Roy Keane as Portsmouth rivals Sunderland look to appoint ex-Man Utd captain as manager

Former Aston Villa striker Gabby Agbonlahor has launched a verbal attack on Roy Keane’s man-management skills as the Irishman prepares to be interviewed for the vacant manager’s job at Sunderland.

By Mark McMahon
Thursday, 3rd February 2022, 11:28 am
Roy Keane is the frontrunner in the race to become Sunderland's new boss   Picture: Ash Donelon/Manchester United via Getty Images
Roy Keane is the frontrunner in the race to become Sunderland's new boss Picture: Ash Donelon/Manchester United via Getty Images

It has emerged that the former Manchester United midfielder is the Black Cats’ preferred choice to replace Lee Johnson, who was sacked after last Saturday’s 6-0 humiliation at the hands of Bolton.

Johnson’s departure also came a week after Sunderland beat Pompey 1-0 at the Stadium of Light.

Keane is also reported to be interested in returning to the dugout – 11 years after his Ipswich sacking and 13 years on from his first spell at Sunderland boss, when he earned promotion back to the Premier League.

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In recent years, the 50-year-old has had coaching roles at Aston Villa, Nottingham Forest and the Republic of Ireland.

And it was during his spell at Villa which allowed Agbonlahor to see at first hand the one-time Celtic players’ coaching capabilities.

Needless to say, the now talk SPORT pundit wasn’t impressed with what he saw, adding that he could have played his part in Keane’s exit from the midlands club in 2014.

Agbonlahor said: ‘The problem with Roy Keane when he come to Aston Villa (was) he couldn't understand how we weren't as good as the players he played with.

‘You know, he couldn't accept that we wasn't going to be as good as Giggs, Scholes, Beckham and them players.

‘And just his way of coaching, it wasn't the right method for players nowadays and players when he was at Aston Villa.

‘Just the way he spoke to players. There were times where there were quite experienced players, people like Joe Cole, and he just didn't speak to them right.

‘There was a time in training where we were doing this shooting drill. So imagine all 22 players doing a shooting drill and you've got to pass it to five different people, get it out wide and get a cross in and then you don't have another shot for about 11, 12 minutes.

‘You're going to be getting cold, aren't you? You're going to be frustrated, like “I need more shots”. So the standard wasn't very good.

‘The gaffer, Paul Lambert, calls Roy Keane in and says “look, this isn't good enough. The standard isn't good enough”.

‘So me, as captain, I've come forward and backed the players up and said “well gaffer, we're only getting one shot every 10, 11 minutes, so we need to do something different”, and Roy Keane comes forward and says “oh, are you cold? Do you want another warm-up?” and I sort of said “I'm not talking to you Roy, I'm talking to the manager”.

‘He give me that evil stare, and then the next day he left.

‘So I think at that time, at Aston Villa, he left because of me.’

Sunderland are currently third in the table – two points of the automatic promotion places and five points adrift to Rotherham, who have played a game more.