In the past, Roy Keane has not been shy about looking disdainfully on the quaint but ineffectual nature of Irish football. It's arguable whether or not Roy Keane will be remembered as the uber-competitive hard man of the Manchester United midfield or the rage and pride-filled egomaniac that abandoned his country leading up to the 2002 World Cup.
And Sunderland, long the quaint and ineffectual favorite of the Irish that don't devote all of their time to bleeding Celtic green, now finds Roy Keane and chairman Niall Quinn trying to break out of the old "ah, the lads gave it their all" mentality that so often accompanies failure. A proposed deal totaling $46M for Steed Malbranque, Teemu Tainio, Younes Kaboul and Pascal Chimbonda from Tottenham Hotspur is reportedly on the table.
Pretty big deal, eh? Especially for Sunderland, you say. Well, the number's big, but as everything is relative, a mere pittance compared to the ever-escalating transfer fees that have following the largest TV contracts in history.
$12M is a lot for any of the above individual players, but if this move goes through, it'd be hard to argue that it wasn't the biggest deal done yet in the transfer window. It is difficult to get excited about Steed Malbranque, but he adds creativity to the attack in midfield. Tainio can be petulant and inconsistent, but can play holding midfield, join in attack and perhaps play out wide. Kaboul is perhaps best known for throwing a tantrum when substituted rather than anything he does on the field, but he's still young. Chimbonda is perhaps the best out of all four, and while he carries a bit of the ego with him, he's in the prime of his career and is highly-motivated on the pitch.
$46M doesn't sound like a lot of money until you find out it's Sunderland doing the spending, but if Keano gets his men and they can follow simple directions and avoid the wrath of their manager and his standards, we'll have seen a marked improvement upon last year's squad, all done simply in one fell swoop. It hasn't happened yet, but when does the opportunity to upgrade your midfield and back line, especially with players that have played together, come along? Not often; a deal like this should bring entertainment to the Northeast, and perhaps more importantly the Black Cats.
Sunderland swooping for four Spurs [Irish Times]