The hiring of Kevin Keegan today to become Newcastle’s manager (again) demonstrates why the Tyneside club have become one of the laughingstocks of the Premier League: Instead of looking to the future, they’ve fallen back into the deadly trap that is the past. What’s worse is that Mike Ashley, Newcastle’s owner, had to have made this decision based solely on what his club’s fans wanted rather than making the best business decision and what was right for the team by going with a foreign manager.
I have nothing against Kevin Keegan whatsoever. He’s a Liverpool legend and was a great player for Newcastle and Southampton and wasn’t too shabby during his time in Germany with Hamburg either.
What has he accomplished as a manager though?? Listen, I could care less about the two First Division titles he has and the one Second Divison championship; those don’t prove anything to me at all. Newcastle were the runners-up in the Premier League in 1995-1996 and lost the Charity Shield to begin the ’96-’97 season; again, not impressive to me. Second place in the Premiership is nice and not too shabby of an accomplishment, I admit that, but that was the best he could do in thirteen years of management.
He didn’t do anything when he coached England except crash them out of the group stage in Euro 2000, when they lost two games in which they led at some point. Keegan finished with a .500 record with England (7-4-7) and in terms of winning percentage is the least successful permanent manager in England national team history.
Let me put this out there. If Keegan didn’t win multiple domestic and European trophies when he was at Liverpool as a player, I don’t think he would even have gotten into the management door. People don’t seem to understand that being a great player and playing on a great team doesn’t necessarily translate to being a good manager; the two aren’t connected like that.
Apparently Newcastle owner Mike Ashley (all 567 pounds of him) doesn’t see it that way, and that’s fine. His problem is that as a fan himself, he’s biased towards guys like Keegan and Shearer; he even sits with the fans at home matches. He has absolutely no knowledge and experience in the game of soccer other than making his fortune in the sporting goods business, and he clearly doesn’t understand the game. If he did, he would realize that appointing a figure from the past isn’t the answer the answer for Newcastle’s problems in the present and certainly isn’t the right way to steer the team to better things in the future.
There were better, more qualified candidates that Ashley could have, and should have, pursued. Yes, I give him credit for going after Harry Redknapp and trying to lure him with the big bucks, but come on; Redknapp was never going to leave the South Coast for the coal heap that is Newcastle. The favorite over the past few days had been former Monaco and Juventus manager Didier Deschamps, who did an outstanding job in leading Monaco to a Champions League final in 2004 and won Serie B with a depleted Juventus side after the Italian match-fixing scandal.
Mark Hughes would clearly have been a better choice than Keegan with the way he’s led Blackburn to a possible UEFA Cup spot this year and he has that team on the right track, and Gerard Houllier would have been the best choice of all. Houllier is outstanding at developing young players and Newcastle really needs an injection of young talent into their side. The Frenchman had just come off two La Ligue titles in a row at Lyon and won two Carling Cups, a UEFA Cup, and an FA Cup at Liverpool. It was reported that Houllier turned Mike Ashley down to stay at his post with the French national team, but I have a feeling that’s because Ashley didn’t offer Houllier a good enough amount of money.
If you’re a member of the Toon Army, you think you won. You persuaded your owner to hire a blast from the past because you think he’s the right man to take you out of the hole you’ve dug yourself in over the past few years.
I’ve got news for you. You lost. You lost bigtime.