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More Thoughts on Kevin Keegan's Hiring

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.

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  1. lee

    January 17, 2008 at 2:57 pm

    yes i agree with kartik. keegan has done well at every club job he’s had and think he would of come good with England too if he had give it more time. the only reason people think otherwise is simply because its Kevin Keegan and everyone expects him to turn teams into world beaters over night and they class anything less as a underachievement.

  2. Kartik

    January 16, 2008 at 9:43 pm

    Michael- I disagree with you 100% here. Kevin Keagan is one of the better managers England has produced in recent times. No he’s not Sir Bobby Robson, but neither is Sam Allarydce or Harry Redknapp.

    You can cite the statistics with England, but Keagan inherited a team in transition and on the international stage that isn’t a good thing. As a manager he did very well with Newcastle the first go round, built fulham from a 2nd Division side (now League One)to where they could go to the Premier League and at City he personally was able to attract the types of players to finish their careers with us that we staved off relegation.

    If you weren’t a City supporter from 1996 thru 2002 you don’t understand how much Kevin Keagan means to us and what a good manager he is. We were relegated three times and promoted three times in that span. Simply put we weren’t good enough to play Premier League Football. At times we were not good enough to play 1st Division Football. Keagan made a European contender almost every year and attracted the types of players to the club we couldn’t get otherwise. He laid the groundwork for the good work Stuart Pearce and Sven continued. Simply put, we’d be in championship PERMANENTLY if not for Keagan.

    In my book this is a dream hire for a club in need of a major morale boost.

  3. Michael

    January 16, 2008 at 7:52 pm


    Redknapp has taken Portsmouth from near-certain relegation two seasons ago when he took over in mid-season and led them on a miracle run to escape the drop to a 9th place finish last season and what looks like a UEFA Cup spot finish this year, all with a team with a stadium that seats about 20,000.

    Yes, he’s lucky that Gaydamak has given some money and will continue to do so, but Newcastle believe themselves to be a “big club” and have a 50,000+ seat stadium and a billionaire owner in Mike Ashley. He’ll give Keegan the resources to do the job and we’ll see what the ex-Liverpool player can do.

    All I can go by is what I’ve seen in the past few years, where Redknapp has revived Portsmouth and Keegan resigned after the England national team debacle in Euro 2000, and when his Manchester City team were eliminated from the UEFA Cup by Groclin and didn’t win a game in 2003-2004 from November 5 to February 21.

  4. lee

    January 16, 2008 at 6:31 pm

    what a clown! you say keegan’s not good enough because he’s not achieved anything then say Rednap was a good one to go for. what has Rednap done? not as well as Keegan and over a period three times as long!
    how can you be so negative before a ball has been kicked after what he done the first time around in five years. he is a hell of a lot better than any name thats been put in the hat up to now. thats unless you fancy it!!

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