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For those who can't get enough NUFC at the minute :razz:




Newcastle hails Kevin Keegan’s return


George Caulkin


Lightning struck for the third time on Tyneside last night as Kevin Keegan made an extraordinary return to Newcastle United, the club he has twice previously hoisted from the doldrums. In scenes reminiscent of the mania that greeted “King Kev’s” earlier incarnations at St James’ Park, supporters swarmed around the stadium. “I’m back home,” Keegan said.


Keegan, 56, the former England manager, has been out of professional football since March 2005, when he resigned as manager of Manchester City. He has been entrusted with the task of bringing back success and entertainment by Mike Ashley, Newcastle’s billionaire owner — the pair met in London yesterday — and, within hours, the ploy could be regarded as successful.


Keegan, Jean, his wife, Ashley and Chris Mort, the Newcastle chairman, flew from Luton airport by helicopter yesterday evening, taking their seats 18 minutes into the 4-1 FA Cup third-round replay victory over Stoke City. Nigel Pearson, the caretaker manager, remained in charge, with Keegan’s first match at the helm to come at home to Bolton Wanderers in the Barclays Premier League on Saturday. He will be officially introduced to the media tomorrow afternoon.


“It’s my third time around,” Keegan said. “I was here as a player as well, but I’m obviously delighted to be back. It’s great.” Mort said: “We’ve got the right man in the end.”


Details of Keegan’s backroom staff are yet to emerge — he has agreed a 3½-year deal worth an estimated £3 million per annum — but Alan Shearer, the club’s record goalscorer, did not dismiss the possibility of working as his assistant. “I don’t see myself as a No 2,” he said, “but it is my club, so if he was to ring me up, I would speak to him without a doubt. I would be foolish not to.”


Shearer, who was signed by Keegan for £15 million in 1996, no longer has a close relationship with his former manager. He had hoped to be considered for the job as Sam Allardyce’s successor — never an option given his lack of experience — but he hailed one of the English game’s more improbable comebacks.


“I’m sure he will get the place rocking,” Shearer said of Keegan’s appointment. “What do the fans want? They want entertainment, they want passion, they want commitment and they have not had that of late.


“The one thing you can guarantee with Kevin is that you will get all those things. They will go forward, they will score goals and they might concede a few, too. Everyone is excited up there, the city will be buzzing and so it should be.


“I was a little bit surprised. I knew his name was in the hat but he had said nothing would bring him back into the game. But Newcastle has the power to do that. The club is in his heart and he wants to do so well for them. He failed to win a trophy the last time he was manager, but you can bet your bottom dollar he will give it a right good go.”


Former acolytes such as Terry McDermott and Peter Beardsley, who are already employed at Newcastle, are likely to be involved in the new regime. Keegan, who briefly met his players in the dressing-room, has admitted that he has scarcely watched a match since leaving City, but he will be provided with significant funds to spend in the remaining fortnight of the transfer window.


Shay Given, the Newcastle goalkeeper, shared the euphoric mood. “I’m just so excited, the hairs on the back of my neck stood on end when I heard,” he said. “Knowing what he has done in the past here, it’s a real coup for the club. It will lift the gloom that’s been around the place and that’s just what we needed as players and fans.


“Kevin Keegan knows what it means to be here, he loves the club and I don’t think any other manager could have lifted the place the same way. And he’s Mike Ashley’s appointment, he’s Mike Ashley’s man.” That, of course, was not the case with Allardyce, who departed eight days ago. After being rejected by Harry Redknapp, the Portsmouth manager, last weekend, Mort had made contact with associates of Mark Hughes, Didier Deschamps and Gérard Houllier, among others, but the pull of Keegan’s passion was decisive.


Despite scoring against Stoke, one person who may not be overjoyed is Michael Owen, who played under Keegan for England. “It was a dark phase in my career,” Newcastle’s record signing wrote in his autobiography. “It made me question my footballing ability for the first time in my life. And, yes, it scarred me.”


That was not a widely held sentiment. Keegan has been engrossed in his Soccer Circus project in Glasgow and says on its website: “Football is my life. It’s all about skill, passion and entertainment, but most of all, it’s about enjoyment.” Last night provided an early reminder. 





Keegan anointed as Newcastle's saviour


Shearer declares readiness to help out


Louise Taylor

Thursday January 17, 2008

The Guardian


Kevin Keegan's second coming as Newcastle United's manager last night captured Geordie imaginations and succeeded in taking the football world by surprise. The once familiar refrain of "Walking in a Keegan wonderland" rang out again at St James' Park after Newcastle's 4-1 FA Cup third-round replay win against Stoke City as the club's new manager, who has signed a 3½-year deal, entered the dressing room to address his players. He will face the media tomorrow and take charge of his first game in football since March 2005 when Bolton Wanderers visit on Saturday.


Article continues

By then the former England manager, who resurrected the club in his first spell in charge from 1992-97, is likely to have made his former Fulham colleague Chris Coleman, who resigned as Real Sociedad's manager yesterday, his assistant. He may also have appointed Lee Clark, Glenn Roeder's No2 at Norwich, as first-team coach. The large staff hired by Sam Allardyce, who was sacked eight days ago, will fear for their futures; only Terry McDermott is sure to be retained.


As he entered the ground the reborn Geordie messiah said: "It's my third time around. I'm back home. It's great to be back." Chris Mort, the Newcastle chairman, who only last Saturday had been rebuffed by Portsmouth's Harry Redknapp, enthused: "We're absolutely delighted. We didn't think we'd be able to get Kevin."


Before kick-off, delayed by 15 minutes as thousands queued to get in, Newcastle's players were said to be in a state of shock. Some were thought broadly to welcome Keegan's return, others, including Michael Owen, the England striker who has had his differences with the former national coach, appeared more guarded.


The Newcastle goalkeeper Shay Given said Keegan's comeback was "a dream come true". He added: "You dream like the fans dream that Kevin Keegan would come back and maybe Alan [shearer] would come back as well. But until it was announced today you thought it was just a dream. Kevin Keegan has a lot of work to do with the squad and the team but hopefully there are exciting times ahead. We hope to get back to where we were the last time [he was in charge]. He nearly won the league. Everyone remembers the entertaining football we used to play under Kevin Keegan."


Frequently unpredictable and sometimes contrary, Keegan has a history of discord and the supporters are wondering whether he and the former striker Shearer, who have not spoken for some time, may bury their differences, thereby facilitating the former Newcastle captain's return in some capacity. The BBC pundit, who still hopes to become Newcastle's manager "one day", said: "Kevin is his own man and will make his own decisions. But it is my club and, if he was to ring up and ask to speak to me, I would speak to him - I would be foolish not to. I haven't really seen myself as a No2, though."


Shearer made it plain he wanted to succeed Allardyce but, as with other candidates, including Blackburn's Mark Hughes, the former Liverpool manager Gérard Houllier and Didier Deschamps, he served as part of a smokescreen to hide the pursuit of Keegan and was destined to be overlooked as the club's owner, Mike Ashley - who met Keegan in London earlier yesterday - sought to revive past glories.


Keegan has never lacked a sense of theatre and midway through last night's first half he took a seat in the directors' box, having arrived on Tyneside by helicopter alongside Ashley and Mort. When Claudio Cacapa scored the home team's second goal a blonde woman appeared and kissed Keegan on the mouth.


The night passed in a whirl of hand-shakes, hugs and autograph signings but, dressed in jeans and a leather jacket, Keegan at times looked as if he could not quite believe he was back in the Milburn stand, sat between Ashley, wearing a replica Newcastle shirt under a cashmere coat, and Mort. As recently as October the 56-year-old said he was "finished" with football management, had not watched any matches and was in touch with no one at his last club, Manchester City, whom he left two years ago by "mutual consent".


Life with City, England and Fulham could never quite match up to managing Newcastle and Keegan has reflected: "That team was one of the major football successes of the last 20 years; nothing like it will ever happen again." His challenge now is to ensure it somehow does.




Tyneside celebrates as Keegan leaves his circus for Newcastle

By Michael Walker

Published: 17 January 2008


A brilliant kind of madness. If one phrase can attempt to convey the avalanche of conflicting emotions that swept Tyneside yesterday, then that might begin to encapsulate some of the feeling. Kevin Keegan is back as manager of Newcastle United almost 11 years to the day since he walked out of St James' Park. They say never go back, but as Keegan walked into the stadium last night he said: "I'm back home."


Bewilderment at Newcastle's choice was laced with giddiness that the man dubbed "the Messiah" when he first came back in 1992 should be here for a third time. Keegan had first come as a player in 1982 when Newcastle were in the old second division. Even Jesus did not have a third coming.


Locally, Keegan diehards were stunned. They had not believed it could happen. Even Keegan sceptics were stirred. It has happened. He has been given a three-and-a-half-year contract.


Eighteen minutes into the first half of last night's 4-1 FA Cup replay victory over Stoke, Keegan appeared through the double doors of the St James' directors' box and took his seat between his new bosses, owner Mike Ashley and chairman Chris Mort.


Keegan surveyed a stadium very different to the one he knew as a player or when he first arrived in the old dugout with only Terry McDermott for company. McDermott is still in it. Afterwards there was a trip to the dressing room where hands were shaken with players, but no Keegan speech. That is yet to come.


It was Keegan's invention that helped develop this ground, but now he has a very different construction job on his hands. He was 41 when he first came as a manager; now he is 56, grey-haired and has experienced Fulham, Manchester City and England. It is three years since he last managed, at City, when he quit and said he was leaving football. England, in particular, hurt Kevin Keegan.


But Ashley wanted drama and change and, even though it is a returning man, he and Mort have made a revolutionary appointment.


Last night's kick-off had to be put back due to numbers, but a measure of the disillusion on Tyneside brought about by Sam Allardyce and years of unfulfilled promise was that there were still only 35,000 here. At least they, and Keegan, witnessed a win including, from Michael Owen, Newcastle's first goal of 2008.


The crowd will be different on Saturday when Bolton come. Regardless of doubts about the wisdom of this enterprise, the place will be bouncing. The players already look enthused. "It's brilliant, I'm just so excited, the hairs on the back of my neck stood on end when I heard. Unbelievable, brilliant," Shay Given said.


"Kevin Keegan knows what it means to be here, he loves the club and I don't think another manager could have lifted the place the same way. And he's Mike Ashley's appointment, he's Mike Ashley's man."


That is crucial. Allardyce was not Ashley's appointment, and his methodology was not in Newcastle's tradition. Keegan's variety is of the sort Ashley spoke of at the weekend when he said he wanted to build a team who are capable of taking on Manchester United and "walloping" Chelsea. For that the billionaire will have to provide funds.


Keegan is good at spending and his record in the market is better than many say. "His signings at Newcastle were fantastic," said Robert Lee, captain of Keegan's swashbuckling mid-Nineties side. "He very rarely wasted money. It will still take him a little while to make this his team but he will get there. And he will motivate the players already there. No matter whether he is talking to the Queen or a two-year-old boy, Kevin Keegan has it. He has charisma, an aura."


Who comes with him is now a question and Alan Shearer did not rule out the idea, though he did say: "I don't see myself as a No 2." Shearer was surprised as anyone. "He [Keegan] had said nothing would bring him into the game. But Newcastle have the power to do that. The club is in his heart."


The astonishment began at 16.12 when those supporters who subscribe to the club's text alert service were sent a message reading: "Kevin Keegan is returning to Newcastle United as manager, more to follow."


"More to follow" is some understatement. But, if football is about emotion and human relationships, as well as points, then Keegan and Newcastle are made for each other. "I have always had the call of the Tyne in me and I am convinced that it was fate that took me to Newcastle not once, but twice," Keegan said in his autobiography. "On the knee of my father Joe, I heard all about the Geordies."


"He belongs," Lee said, neatly. But Lee had not seen it coming. Keegan had featured prominently in the betting and came top of a poll in the Newcastle Evening Chronicle – with 42 per cent. Yet because of the hush that had descended on St James', because of the Harry Redknapp dalliance and the noise that was emanating from Blackburn and elsewhere, there was little sense of momentum about Keegan.


But the "lift-off" that Ashley wants was being planned all along. " Mike and I are absolutely thrilled because we didn't think we would be able to get Kevin back here," Mort said. "He's absolutely the right man for the job, so we're delighted."


It is hard to imagine money will not be spent. This is not an appointment that smacks of prudence. For Keegan it is a last chance and he will be tested immediately. He knows Joey Barton from City days.


Then there is Owen. With England, Owen was often substituted by Keegan and Owen said in his book: "He seemed the complete package. But if it was for some players, it wasn't for me. Looking back on the Keegan era, one main feature stands out for me. It made me question my footballing ability for the first time in my life. And, yes, it scarred me... certainly it was a dark phase in my career."


That is a big hurdle for two men who love horses to overcome. Once the hullabaloo dies. If the hullabaloo dies.


'I just see football for what it is... all about money'


In an interview with Brian Viner in The Independent last March, Kevin Keegan talked about his feelings about modern football and about managing again:


[Would he manage again?] "I don't think so. I never saw myself managing in the first place. I never applied for a job..."


"I just see football for what it is, which is all about money. I find it incredible that a doctor can train for eight years to earn in a year what a footballer earns in a week. And the more they earn, they more remote they get..."


"Only two Premiership teams, Manchester United and Chelsea, can win the title next year, let alone this year. I took Newcastle up and we played our way to third, second, second. That will never happen again in your lifetime..."

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