Keane among names linked with vacant Owls job

ROY KEANE is in the frame for a speedy return to football, after Sheffield Wednesday yesterday began an urgent mission to replace sacked manager Andy Irvine.

Milan Mandaric, chairman of the League 1 club, said he has already compiled a shortlist of four candidates, which is believed to include Keane.

However, the Corkman would appear to be up against Gary Megson, amongst others, the boyhood Owls fan — who still lives near Sheffield — having previously worked under Mandaric at Leicester City. Megson has been out of management since parting company with Bolton Wanderers just over a year ago.

“I’m interested in Gary Megson,” Mandaric confirmed. “He’s top drawer and has tremendous experience. I rate him highly but whether he gets the job, that’s different. He’s worked in the Premier League and the Championship and taken teams up. And he has worked in a lot of difficult circumstances. But I haven’t said that he will be our next manager. Right now we are looking at four people, but that may go down to two.”

When contacted by the Irish Examiner yesterday, a spokesman for Wednesday made no effort to quash speculation Keane was one of the other names under consideration. “Obviously I can’t speak on his behalf but you’d think a big club like Wednesday would be attractive to him. It would be no great surprise for him to be linked to the job.”

Regarded as an authentic ‘sleeping giant’ of English football, the historic Hillsborough club have had a disastrous recent run in which they leaked 19 goals in six games without a win, but Wednesday are still just seven points off a play-off place and Mandaric is clearly not prepared to give up on the prospect of promotion to the Championship this season.

However, a quick appointment is seen as vital, with a new manager expected to be installed possibly as early as today and no later than Monday.

Speaking in Dublin yesterday, Celtic manager Neil Lennon said he was convinced Roy Keane has what it takes to bounce back from his Ipswich disappointment and make it as a manager.

“No doubt about it,” he said.

“He was one of the greatest players of his generation and has a vast knowledge of the game. What he did at Sunderland was a great achievement.

“A lot of managers will probably never do that in 20 or 30 years of management — he took Sunderland up from the Championship in his first year, which was an incredible feat. Okay, things didn’t work out for him at Ipswich for whatever reason. But I’m sure he’ll be back, stronger than ever.

“What you do is you learn from your mistakes, as I’ve done already this season. And I’m sure Roy will see where he went wrong and rectify that. He has this charisma about him and he’s not afraid to speak his mind at times. And I think the game’s a poorer place without him.”

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