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Goodbye, Kevin Keegan

Another Premiership manager bit the dust today as Kevin Keegan joined Alan Curbishley on the unemployment line.

The “Geordie Messiah” was supposed to turn Newcastle’s fortunes around and make them a top-four contender, if you believe most of the Toon Army, but didn’t even last a full season’s worth of games after returning to the club midway through the ’07-’08 campaign. In 21 competitive games in Keegan’s second stint as Newcastle manager, the Magpies went just 6-6-9, hardly an impressive record for a team whose fans consider “big” in the English and European scenes.

As was the case with Curbishley, Keegan was unhappy with his club’s transfer policy:

“It’s my opinion that a manager must have the right to manage and that clubs should not impose upon any manager any player that he does not want.”

This tells me he wasn’t fully behind this summer’s signings of two Argentine players, Jonas Gutierrez and Fabricio Coloccini. I also don’t think Keegan was given permission to go out and buy players that he himself, not sporting director Dennis Wise or club owner Mike Ashley, wanted, and that’s unacceptable. The sale of James Milner, the team’s only real talented young player, to Aston Villa may have put the final nail in the coffin as Keegan had made it clear that he wanted to keep the England U-21 captain. A manager knows more about players, particularly ones he believes will fit in well, than anyone in the backroom and especially the owner, who in this case has no real background in the game. Any power struggles going on behind the scenes should end up in favor of the manager, because he’s the one person outside of the players most responsible for a team’s success or lack thereof.

Keegan is a hero in Newcastle so this resignation has hit fans there extremely hard. They put more stock into Keegan than they would’ve with any manager outside of a couple of the big names that were available when the position opened in January. To be sure (and the evidence is in the archives here), I was never in favor of him coming back to Newcastle and didn’t think he’d be successful. Even so, though, it’s unfortunate that things ended like this because Keegan is a character and a voice that is good for the Premiership. He’ll end up back on his feet somewhere if he wants another job, but the question is, where does Newcastle go from here?

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  1. Lonnie

    September 5, 2008 at 2:07 pm

    “What Wenger has done for Arsenal? Nothing in the past decade.”

    I think once you stop and think about what you typed, you’ll see what a ridiculous statement that is. I’m not going to quote the record book back to you.

    Benitez seems to prefer non-English players it seems, which is fine if that’s the way the club wants to go…that’s their right. I don’t see it as a condemnation of Guthrie.

  2. Michael

    September 5, 2008 at 1:12 pm

    I don’t think Liverpool/Barry is a good example, to be perfectly honest. Liverpool is on top of the table, hasn’t lost in any competition this year, and has conceded just one goal in the league, all while Gerrard hasn’t even been close to 100%, Keane has been ineffective as of yet and is still trying to fit in, and Torres hasn’t showed the same form he did for much of last year. I don’t see Liverpool has been “unproductive”.

    What Wenger has done for Arsenal? Nothing in the past decade. What Southgate has done for Boro? Two mid-bottom half finishes.

    Guthrie wasn’t given much of a chance at Liverpool because he couldn’t hack it there. If he could have, he would’ve played. Benitez has shown no problem playing young players if they’re good enough to earn time on the field (N’Gog, Plessis, Lucas, Insua, etc.)

  3. Lonnie

    September 5, 2008 at 12:17 pm

    It’s not unacceptable to me. The manager can have a say as to what he needs but it becomes unproductive to fixate on specific players….see Liverpool and Gareth Barry for an example of this fixation gone wrong. The more I see of the spend-a-holic managers the more I come to appreciate what Wenger has done for Arsenal and what Southgate is doing for Boro.

    I think it’s short-sighted of you to say that Guthrie couldn’t hack it at Liverpool. I don’t think he was given much chance there and by all accounts he played very well for Bolton last season. Even Keegan was bigging him up before the season:,,10278~1346535,00.html

  4. Michael

    September 5, 2008 at 10:20 am

    Lonnie, it’s unacceptable to both me and Keegan, obviously, and should be to everyone. He’s the manager. He knows what’s going on inside the locker room better than anyone else. He knows what he needs for his team better than anyone else. He should be the one who has most of the say on what players he wants and wants to get rid of.

    N’Zogbia hasn’t lived up to the potential he showed a couple years ago. Danny Guthrie couldn’t hack it at Liverpool, and he’s not even in the same breath as Milner. Taylor is a good young center back, but he too hasn’t quite taken that next step in his development yet.

  5. Lonnie

    September 5, 2008 at 9:47 am

    Two points about your article:

    “I also don’t think Keegan was given permission to go out and buy players that he himself, not sporting director Dennis Wise or club owner Mike Ashley, wanted, and that’s unacceptable.”

    Unacceptable to whom? Keegan or yourself? The role of the manager has been changing in the EPL. More clubs are adopting the continental model of having the manager be the ‘trainer’ of the club while another person does all the buying and selling. It works just fine for clubs like Barcelona, Internzaionale, Bayern Munich and many many others. It’s only the EPL that is behind the times in that regard.

    “The sale of James Milner, the team’s only real talented young player…”

    What about Charles N’Zogbia, Steven Taylor or Danny Guthrie?

  6. rurouni_sena

    September 5, 2008 at 8:44 am

    I live in Scotland but like most football fans keep a close eye on the Premeirship. Characters like Keegan are the life blood of the game in these times of corporate bankers and faceless businessmen. He has achieved a lot in the game unlike those who are against him. Like Curbishley he is a man of honour who will not be manipulated. We shall now see the Toon Army at its best or worst depending on how they act and react. I think their lust for a trophy will cause them to soon forget Keegan and heap praises on their next new messiah, whomsoever that may be!

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