Keane: Refs under 'too much pressure'

August 24, 2007

Under-fire Rob Styles and his refereeing colleagues have found an unlikely ally in the shape of Sunderland boss Roy Keane.

The 36-year-old freely admits he was the scourge of officials during his hugely successful playing career.

However, in the wake of Styles' high-profile punishment for his error in awarding Chelsea a crucial penalty at Liverpool last Sunday - he will not take charge of a game this weekend - Keane has called on his colleagues to ease the pressure on the men in the middle.

He said: 'I know it might sound crazy, but I do believe a lot of people are putting too much pressure on the referees.

'I know I did as a player - I am sure there is going to be a picture now of me chasing a referee - but that was then.

'The referees are full-time now and they are aware of the pressures involved. It is the same for managers, for players, for chairmen.

'The pressures are pretty intense, but that's the way of the world, it's not going to change.

'I do not really speak about referees after the game. You do need a cooling off period.

'I have spoken to the assessor sometimes 48 hours after the game and I make my points then.

'I think you can be constructive then because after the game, your emotions are running high and sometimes you will see an incident later on and you might not have seen it properly.

'I am a great believer that these things pan out over the season.'

Keane appears to be mellowing as he embarks upon his second season as a manager - it was something he admitted he would have to do when he took on the job 12 months ago - although his players may have questioned that after last weekend's 3-0 Barclays Premier League defeat at Wigan.

Typically, the Irishman heads into tomorrow's clash with long-time rivals Liverpool far from dreading the visit of Rafael Benitez's title hopefuls, but rather relishing a stern test of his side's top-flight credentials.

The Reds played a major role in the Cork-born midfielder's career on the field, Keane making a surprise Nottingham Forest debut against them and pulling on a Manchester United shirt for the final time at Anfield.

Asked about then Forest boss Brian Clough's decision to throw him in at the deep end as a teenager, he said: 'I had only just come over from Ireland and I was about 18 or 19.

'I thought I was just going up to put the kit out and that's what I was doing when I was told I was playing.

'That was fantastic for me to make my debut - and of course, I played my last game for United at Liverpool.

'It's a fantastic club with a great history. For most of my career, they were massive rivals. You have to respect these clubs and recognise the history behind them.

'It's a good opportunity for us to test ourselves against a team like Liverpool.'

Keane and chief executive Peter Walker continue to work tirelessly behind the scenes in an effort to further strengthen the squad during the remaining days of the transfer window, and that process should take another step forward today with former United team-mate Andy Cole on Wearside for a medical with a view to signing a one-year deal.

The manager said: 'He has had a fair few clubs, but I have played with Andy and been in the same dressing room and I know he likes to win.

'He is someone I have always got on all right with - it might be different now I am a manager, that might change.

'But a player with Andy's history - you look at his goals record and his experience, and he is someone we had to consider.'

Meanwhile, Keane revealed he has spoken to Republic of Ireland Under-21s boss Don Givens to explain Anthony Stokes' non-appearance last week, which he blamed on a lack of communication for which he took full responsibility.