Celtic, Charlton and Sunderland battled for days for the signature of Anthony Stokes, with Keano coming up the victor as he signed his main transfer target this January for £2m on Tuesday.
But Keano today revealed how Sunderland’s more understanding approach, contrasting with pressure and threats some other parties, was what may have finally won the youngster over,
‘I thought I’d missed out on him on Saturday night because I was told that he wasn’t coming to us,’ said Sunderland’s manager. ‘But it’s never over until the player has signed. We’ve agreed fees for players but, until the lad actually signs, you just never know. I got another phone call, had another chat, and things changed.
It’s very hard for a young player, especially when they’re being put under a lot of pressure by certain people. People are always looking to criticise players for changing their minds, but managers do it every day of the week. Chairmen do it as well.
‘I do believe that the lad was put under extreme pressure by one or two people who should be having a good look at themselves now because, ultimately, I think that’s one of the main reasons why he came to us.
‘I’m not going to go into too many details but, right from the start, we told Anthony that whatever decision he made, we would be wishing him well.
‘We didn’t threaten him and I think he appreciated that. We didn’t put him under pressure. We didn’t have medicals lined up for him and we didn’t threaten him at all.’
Stokes himself confirmed that the club never pressured him to rush any decision, and wished him the best whatever his choice,
‘Roy rang me and spoke to me about where he saw the club going and where he saw myself going. He has said that he thinks this is a Premiership club and that the Premiership is where he wants to be. I want to play in the Premiership, so we are on the same lines there.
‘But he never put any pressure on me and that’s one of the things I liked about him and about Sunderland. It has been hectic. Everyone was on to me, saying: ‘Can we get a signature? We need it as soon as possible,’ and things like that. It’s what happens when people want to sign you I suppose.
‘But Roy was very good. He rang me once and said ‘take your time, take as long as you want’. I came back to him with the decision that I was happy and that I wanted to come here.’
Good work Keano. Let’s hope Stokes repays his new club’s faith by banging in a couple of goals on his debut this weekend.