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By ESPN Staff

Keane stunned after being charged by FA

Sunderland boss Roy Keane was astonished to be hit with an Football Association charge a day after being told he had a right to be annoyed with referee Martin Atkinson.

The Irishman confronted the official in the tunnel at half-time during last Saturday's 5-0 Premier League defeat at Chelsea to complain about the Blues' second and third goals.

He later insisted he did not swear at Atkinson and maintained his calm, although his patience was tested on Monday morning when he received a telephone call from the referees' assessor which he claims confirmed his views.

His mood darkened the following day when he was charged with improper conduct by disciplinary chiefs.

Keane, who is yet to decide whether or not he will deny the charge, said: "On Monday morning, I received a call from the referees' assessor and he just said: 'Thoughts on the referee?', and I had a bit of a giggle.

"He said: 'Clearly the second goal shouldn't have stood and clearly there was a foul on Chimbonda for the third goal', and I said, 'Well, yeah, tell me about it'.

"And I had the same conversation two weeks ago [after Kieran Richardson's free-kick had been disallowed at Fulham]. I had the same conversation a number of times last year.

"It got to the stage where even Keith Hackett rang me to apologise for the officials' performances. That's saying something.

"Listen, I haven't got a problem with referees making mistakes. What would disappoint me, particularly over the last year and particularly this season, is the number of big decisions that have gone against our football club.

"But when it is constantly going against you, clearly bad decisions, then you have a right as a manager to question or ask an official at half-time.''

Keane revealed he is still considering his response to the charge - he has until November 19 - but asked if he plans to have his say, he replied with a smile: "I would have thought so, yes. I will have a day out in York.

"It's very difficult at this moment in time, and maybe I will get a chance to give my views to the FA. But the last time I was charged by the FA, they had a murder lawyer in against me, so it's going to be a hard case to win.''

In the meantime, Keane will focus on the business of making amends for a bad week in the wake of his side's derby victory over Newcastle.

A 1-0 defeat at Stoke four days later quickly took the gloss of the local skirmish, and last weekend's events at Stamford Bridge simply added to the frustration.

The Black Cats entertain Portsmouth looking to redress the balance with Keane as busy off the field as his players will need to be on it.

He this week spoke to Djibril Cisse, El-Hadji Diouf and Pascal Chimbonda over allegations that they had been at Newcastle striker Obafemi Martins' party 48 hours before the Chelsea game, and now considers the matter dealt with.

In addition, he allowed striker Michael Chopra to join Cardiff on loan, adding to a growing lost of players leaving the Stadium of Light on short-term deals.

Keane freely admits his squad is too big - he has made in excess of 30 permanent signings and several more on loan since his arrival in August 2006 - and that is a situation he intends to remedy.

He said: "It is clear to me we have to trim the squad, without a shadow of a doubt. We have got far too many good players who have not been able to get games.

"I can't keep them all happy, and that's why we have had to make decisions. They are not easy decisions because these are good players, very good players.''


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