Earlier this month, Roy Keane, who is currently the assistant boss with the Republic of Ireland, revealed that he was hoping to earn a return to club management after an absence spanning almost five years, but on this day in 2008, the former Manchester United midfielder would see his first spell in charge of a club come to an end after he resigned as manager of Sunderland.
Keane had been appointed as boss of the Black Cats just months after he had brought his playing career to an end at Celtic. During his time in Scotland, there had been suggestions that the Irishman could be the ideal candidate to replace Gordon Strachan, but after leaving the club due to his retirement, Keane was open to offers and he jumped at the opportunity at the Stadium of Light, replacing chairman Niall Quinn who had overseen the club's opening four league fixtures, all of which ended in defeat, leaving them rooted to the bottom of the Championship.
However, in an astonishing turnaround, Keane would lead Sunderland to the league title, finishing two points ahead of runners-up Birmingham City and four clear of third-placed Derby County. Keane had watched from the stands as his new side beat West Bromwich Albion before his appointment, leaving his official record at 26 wins and seven draws from 41 fixtures, an average of 2.07 points per game until the start of May.
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Ahead of their return to the Premier League, excitement was high as Keane looked to put together a squad capable of not only achieving survival, but gaining a place towards mid-table. Keane would make full use of the funds handed to him by the club's hierarchy, spending a total of £20m to sign Craig Gordon, Kenwyne Jones and Michael Chopra, while the likes of Kieran Richardson, Paul McShane, Andrew Cole, Ian Harte and Danny Higginbotham would also move to the North-East during a busy summer for the club.
The campaign began perfectly for Sunderland as a Chopra goal earned them a 1-0 victory at home to Tottenham Hotspur before they claimed a 2-2 draw away at Birmingham City. However, things would quickly turn sour for Keane, who saw his team lose three successive games, before posting a total of four points from eight fixtures. There was little doubt that the club were involved in a scrap to retain their top-flight status, but for all of the defeats that they suffered during the 2007-08 season - the third highest in the league with 21 - they found a way of securing survival.
While results on the road were hard to come by, Keane guided his team to four successive wins at the Stadium of Light at the turn of the year, before three wins in a row before Easter all but guaranteed that they would remain a Premier League club. Nevertheless, there was work to do during the summer and Keane would be given funds to bring in the likes of Pascal Chimbonda, Steed Malbranque and Anton Ferdinand, additions that would initially help Sunderland to 12 points from their opening nine games.
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However, results soon took a turn for the worse. After five defeats in six league games and a League Cup exit at home to Blackburn Rovers, pressure on Keane had intensified and seven years ago today, he made the decision to resign from his role at the Stadium of Light after 27 months and 100 games in charge. With 42 victories during that time, Keane holds the best win ratio since the days of Mick McCarthy, although that is largely down to his success in the Championship.
After his departure, a disappointed Quinn said: "Roy's decision sums up his desire to always do what is best for the club, despite the club's efforts to keep him. Roy deserves huge respect for his contribution and the manner in which he guided the club from the depths of the Championship back to the Premier League. His winning mentality and singled mindedness were just what this club needed. Even in his departure he has been more concerned for the welfare of the players and his staff than himself. The board has reluctantly accepted his decision and wish him and his family well for the future."
Since leaving the North-East, Keane has held just one managerial position, an unsuccessful period at Ipswich Town where he failed to recover from beginning the 2009-10 campaign with 14 matches without a win. The 44-year-old has since been assistant to Paul Lambert at Aston Villa and Martin O'Neil's right-hand man with the Republic of Ireland. However, after Euro 2016, Keane looks ready to return to the domestic scene, and he is sure to have his eye on developments in the Championship as the season unfolds.