During the transfer window at the start of the season, Keane went for players who were clearly not up to the standard of the division. With the exception of the odd few, namely Kenywyne Jones and Kieran Richardson, he has not bought the quality needed to stay in the division, and he recognised that after the first six games.
He spent £9 million on a goalkeeper who was unproven in the Premier League—and so far, Craig Gordon has done little to prove himself, or to prove that he was worth that amount of money.
It appears that the fans Keane once had on his side are beginning to turn after an absolutely dismal home FA Cup loss to Wigan Athletic. Being booed off at the end of the game is not something that Keane is used to.
Keane needs to realise that the fans won't stay on his side much longer if he continues with some of his tactical decisions—for instance keeping Dwight Yorke on at Blackburn when he was clearly too tired, and ending up with the side being reduced to 10 men because of a tired tackle.
No manager is untouchable, especially in this instance. Chairman Niall Quinn wants to do what is best for the fans—and if Keane keeps producing poor displays, the chairman will have to have a rethink his manager.
I am still in full support of Keane, but his decision-making doesn't seem to be getting any better as he becomes more experienced as a manager.
That said, the impact that he has had on Sunderland, not just at the club but in the area surrounding the club, has been fantastic. Many of the fans were called overconfident before the season, but that was all media talk. The fans expect Keane to at least keep the club in the Premiership, and to to do so the manager needs to bring in quality players.
The fans will not put up with the mistakes and poor performances for much longer.
At the recent 4-0 defeat to Manchester United, the fans were instrumental. Even when they knew their team were being outclassed by United, the fans were the 12th man.
The other relegation-threatened clubs—Derby, Wigan, Fulham, Middlesbrough—don't have the same support. The Sunderland fans won't be patient if the results get worse, but they are intelligent, and they know that Keane is the man with the ability to keep the team up.
They just hope that he can bring in the right kind of player this time—and make up for where he went wrong earlier in the season and at times last season, as we he spent £2 million on Anthony Stokes.
So far the young Irishman has been at the centre of more bad things than good in his time at the club, and has yet to repay the fee that he was bought for.
Although he may have changed some opinions with a crucial late winner against fellow strugglers Derby, he has a lot to prove he can become a player of genuine Premiership class. He is currently more remembered for turning up late for the team bus and paying visits to the Glass Spider, sitting with a pint.
Keane needs to prove to the fans that he is the man for the job again—because at the moment the skeptics are starting to think that they were right about his appointment.
The club were expected to be down where they are now at the start of the season. Sunderland aren't a club that are well liked, but their support outside of the area is on the up due to the Keane factor.
Still, the only way Keane can get people to sit up and recognise that Sunderland are a Premier League club and not a yo-yo club is by keeping them where they do belong, in the top league.
If he does so, the following season will allow him to build on the success, and to get more quality into the club, because they won't be expected to be down in the relegation fight for a second season in a row.
Only time will tell whether Keane has the goods to pull it off.