SUNDERLAND boss Roy Keane has admitted the rest of the Barclays Premier League clubs have little chance of breaking into the top four in the short term.
Echoing Newcastle counterpart Kevin Keegan’s comments in the wake of his side’s defeat by title contenders Chelsea on Monday, Keane voiced the opinion that even clubs with £50 million (€64m) to spend this summer could only scratch the surface.
Keegan caused something of a stir with his outburst and will have to explain himself to Magpies owner Mike Ashley at a meeting in London later today.
But Keane knows exactly where he was coming from.
Asked if he agreed with Keegan’s assessment, he said: “Of course, 100%, £50m (€63) wouldn’t get you into the top four, nowhere near it.
“Kevin Keegan is a clever man, he knows the score, and I think everyone agrees with him on that.
“Anyone who disagrees with it doesn’t know football. Fifty million won’t get you anywhere near the top four.”
Keane has invested £44m (€55m) this season in an ultimately successful attempt to keep the Black Cats in the Premier League.
Having done that after something of a struggle, he has made no secret of the fact he believes it will take as much again, if not more, to have a successful season next time around.
However, he knows the task of establishing the club as a genuine power in the top flight could take several years.
He said: “I am certainly not looking to compete with the top four next season, but we want to be competing with the teams just ahead of us.
“We want to be up against the Man Citys and the Blackburns and even the Villas, trying to compete with them on a regular basis.’’
Keegan has also warned that the Premier League is in danger of becoming “boring” if the current big four continue to dominate, although Keane, a veteran of Manchester United’s dominant run, does not necessarily agree.
He said: “I don’t think the Premier League is boring, but you do look at other countries.
“People are always critical of what goes on in Scotland, where it’s always going to be Celtic or Rangers.
“But for the last few years and maybe the next few years, they are going to say you can only see two or three teams winning it (the Premier League).
“I don’t think that’s boring for Chelsea, Manchester and Liverpool and those teams who are trying to win championships.
“But it just makes it very, very hard for us because every year, they are in the Champions League and every year, they are getting an extra £20m (€25m), £30m (€38m), £40m (€50m) that the other clubs aren’t getting.
“It’s obvious they are going to get stronger and buy the bigger and the best players.’’
Meanwhile, Keane has already started a clear-out to pave the way for his summer spending mission by confirming that out-of-contract quartet Andy Cole, Stanislav Varga, Ian Harte and Stephen Wright will not be offered new deals.
Keane said: “I have sat down with Andy, Ian, Stephen and Stan and they won’t be getting new contracts.”
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