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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