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Kevin Keegan - football genius, God, all-round nice guy, legend, Mr NUFC


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Guest Howaythetoon

I don’t know where I’m going with this but there are a lot of young and new fans out there who have heard of KK, but are too young to have been around during what I regard as the halcyon days when he was our manager and through no fault of their own aren’t quite able to grasp or realise just how good a manager he was, what he achieved here and how innovative and amazing he was for that time.

 

What he achieved as a novice young manager here at NUFC with no prior experience was nothing short of sensational and if Keegan and his NUFC from 1992-1996 occurred today, he’d be hailed a genius, his style, his methods, his character and persona and his team would be talked about, written about, analysed, dissected and hyped beyond belief today. Forget Pep and Klopp, KK would be more than just the talk of the Toon, but the football world, if then was today.

 

Whatever people have heard or read about KK when it comes to tactics, forget it, KK understood the game and footballers better than anyone and his whole philosophy, his methods, his style, everything, can be traced back to the day he signed for Liverpool.

 

As a player KK was not naturally blessed with amazing skill like say Kenny Dalglish, athleticism, strength, pace and stature like say Steven Gerrard or natural at finishing like say Ian Rush or evening wing wizardry like John Barnes. What he did possess was a huge heart, decent technical ability and amazing stamina, energy and desire. When Bill Shankley gave him his debut, he told him I don’t want you to get on the ball and think about what you should do, but what you can do. At Liverpool we pass and move, pass and move, you’re in the team to get on that ball and look up and think, what can I do. Shankly knew KK like all his players could play, had the ability, they were all good footballers and good footballers can play anywhere on the park.

 

That liberated KK and set the tone for how he would play and how he as a manager wanted his players to play, his team and could play as they, like all good footballers, can play.

 

To give just a short example, David Batty was signed with the misconception that he would bring defensive steel to the team in midfield as a recognised defensive midfielder or anchorman, that’s what everyone thought and that’s what he himself thought.

 

Until coming in at half time not long after he signed in a game I can’t quite remember, but I do know we were not leading or losing. Batty come in to a right old bollocking by KK. What the fuck are you doing out there KK asked, which Batty went on to reply, doing what I’ve always done, doing the job you signed me to do. Batty wasn’t having a bad game or anything, he was sitting protecting the defence, giving simple passes left and right, picking it up deep and giving it to a team-mate short and crisp, neat and tidy. As he had done all his career.

 

That’s not what I signed you for KK told him, if I want a defender in front of the defence, I’ll play a defender. You’re in the team because you can pass, you can get from box to box, you can strike a ball, you can play, you’re a good footballer. So fucking play.

 

Isn’t that what Rob Lee does gaffer? Aye, better than anyone else, better than you, but I want two Rob Lee’s in my team, no defence or midfield can handle two, one maybe now and again, but two? Don’t worry about defending, let the other team worry about defending. I want you to get on the ball, pass it, get it back, get forward and get in their box. Get goals.

 

Batty was flabbergasted, but would later reveal he enjoyed his football the most under KK and never knew quite how good a footballer he was until then. After he signed he was one of the best performers and most consistent players for KK. He didn’t score the number of goals KK wanted him to and thought he could, but he was more effective in the team getting forward than just as much as he was getting back.

 

Everyone in the team were footballers and restricted to certain positions, roles, tactics, commands, instructions and areas of the pitch would only restrict their footballing prowess, something had Shankly did with KK, he’d have never made it at Liverpool.

 

In training there was no tactical work, no work on systems, formations, moves or anything of the sort. The players practiced simple drills, shooting, crossing, corners, free kicks and above all else, pass and move, pass and move, with small sided games, defence vs attack, defence becoming attack vs attack becoming defence vs attack.

 

KK would regular pit attack vs defence and let them go, often the likes of Darren Peacock, Venison, Watson, Elliott and other defenders would smash the attackers in 5-a-side, even the ‘keepers got in on the action.

 

KK would often line-up 4-4-2 on paper, but the formation of the team often ended up looking like 1-3-3-3 or 1 in midfield, 5 in attack. We didn’t play with wingers, with a central striker or two up front or a flat back four, we played fluid, interchangeable football that would see the centre-back Albert play as a false number 9 I think they call it today, or Rob Lee through the middle with Shearer on the right wing and Sir Les on the left, or Cole all on his own supported by Sellars, Lee, Clark, Beardsley and Fox behind him with the defence pushed high up in the centre of the pitch in midfield and with the ‘keeper miles away in the distance hands on hip.

 

This wasn’t some elaborate design or tactical mastery, this was 11 talented footballers well versed in pass and move, attack attack, given the licence and freedom to express themselves when on the ball, there was no what should I do, but what can I do. And the result was mind blowing, exciting, unadulterated attacking football of the like never seen before at that time at Newcastle or any club, home or abroad. Not even today. Football that took a club destined for 3rd division football to within 4 points of winning the Premier League in 4 years. A brand of football termed too attack minded, too open, too naive, too defensively open.

 

And yet, that fateful season of ‘95-96 where we narrowly lost out on the title, we conceded less than a handful of goals more than the eventual Champions who were churning out 1-0 wins after 1-0 wins week in week out towards the end.

 

KK wasn’t tactically naive, or unwilling or unable to organise a defence, he was a genius ahead of his time who focused on the qualities of his players, trusting them and attack bring the best form of defence, he was so convinced by this way of playing, on winning promotion with a team of journeymen, a young forward rejected by Arsenal and despite popular myth, outspent by West Ham and Derby that promotion season, he told Alex Ferguson who had won the title that same season with Man Utd, NUFC were going to go toe to toe with them and anyone else standing in the way of him and his players fighting to bring the title back to Tyneside. Not eventually, not in a few years, but right away. NUFC were back in the big league and under KK, not to make up the numbers or try and not go back down, but to win the division.

 

He had never managed before, training didn’t involve tactics, formations, systems, defensive drills or anything, he had no training ground, training at Durham in the open, no real facilities either, he had Fazackerly his fitness trainer, Cox his mentor, Terry Mac his players’ rep and a club with a decaying stadium, 6m debt, no stars, relegation looming, no money to spend, a disenfranchised fanbase, a city still in recession and boardroom war raging above him. He come in and kept the team up, then he won promotion as Champions and in style, he then got the club back into Europe finishing 3rd, then 6th and then 2nd.

 

Transforming players like Rob Lee from no marks playing as a wide midfielder for Charlton into an England player, a goal scoring box to box player like a pre later day Lampard. He turned Andy Cole a 21 year old reject into a record breaking goalscorer, 41 goals in a season, the hottest young prospect in Europe, a record transfer. He got two centre-forwards conventional wisdom said couldn’t play together, to play together. Shearer and Sir Les. He brought Tino to England and played him, Shearer, Sir Les and Beardsley together up front. He brought Ginola to England and told him don’t worry about defending, attack attack attack. He brought Albert here and although he was a centre-back, he could play anywhere under KK and gave us one of the most memorable goals ever scored at St. James’ Park.

 

He brought a considered past his best Beardsley back, got him back into the England team and had him producing the best football he’s ever played, adding a few extra years onto his career. He gave the Premier League and SKY the Entertainers who everyone loved, who many fans had down as their second favourite team.

 

Even Eric Cantona was amazed, fucking good team he said coming off after KK’s NUFC inflicted a 5-0 hammering over his lot. A match they actually played really well, we were just too good that day.

 

Fergie would later say NUFC would give him sleepless nights the most of any side during that era and that had KK’s team went into the second half of the ‘95-96 season as they did the start, which he feared they were more than capable of doing, he couldn’t see a way of stopping us going forward. They couldn’t outspend us, they couldn’t out play us, all they could do was try and keep up and they did, NUFC unable to keep up with the pace and level they had set. As Fergie had hoped and knew was the only way his team could win the league.

 

Forget mind games, forget the idea Tino coming effected the equilibrium of the team, forget ideas of a leaky defence or naive tactics, NUFC didn’t lose the title, we just weren’t quiet ready. The team lacked leaders, lacked experience, lacked the ability to deal with the pressure, to see it out all the way to the end. Players’ performances dipped too. It wasn’t meant to be that year. As for KK, what could he have done differently to what he was doing? Nothing, instead we should look at what he did differently to what everyone else was doing at that time, from Fergie to George Graham, what everyone else had done at Newcastle before him and even now after him and truly appreciate the genius of the man, the bravery, the balls, the sheer imagination, and above all else the unadulterated belief in our club that NUFC can be the best team in the land, and that’s what he give me as a supporter, that same belief.

 

Nowadays, because of KK we know we can be the best and that should always be the belief, we just need to try and go out to be the best, but that requires the best man for the job, the best man for our club, and KK was and always will be that man.

 

Rafa was too, in different ways. But KK, will forever remain, the best.

 

My hero, my idol, my absolute number 1 who when he took over our then tin pot club metaphorically lifted me up high on his shoulders and said son, open your eyes, I’m going to make your dream club, team, way of playing, turn true for you. And he did. That’s my NUFC, that’s everyone’s club, our club. That’s what anyone connected with our club, be it an owner, players, the manager, and fans, should belief in, believe in Newcastle United as KK did, more than anyone ever did or ever dared to.

 

He saw something in NUFC we wanted to believe in, but didn’t dare to, he did though and look what he made our club into. Now look at what we’ve allowed our club to become today, a club we can’t possibly believe in if we just let some cunt carry on destroying the club KK give back to us all and our city. Soon it will be gone for good.

 

#AshleyOut

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Far, far TL:DR,

 

I reckon I agree, though. We were in a much worse position than we are now, and then it just took off. That first match against Bristol City was immense, I called in sick so I could go, after boycotting since the sale of Gassa. Everything just clicked, as if by magic. The potential was there, but nobody could have honestly believed it would be realised in such comic book fashion.

 

I'll always love King Kev, just for that time in my life. Football is shite now.

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Guest Howaythetoon

It was if all the stars aligned and someone waved a magic wand over the club and indeed the City, as the club’s rise up also tied in with the City’s too, and not coincidentally either. Those brief few years were magic, beautiful. Right now it’s like it was all a dream that never happened and we are awake cursing waking up to this shitty reality. It wasn’t a dream though, it was real and I for one will never ever forget that era, those years, those times and all those who helped make it all possible. KK the most. Those who missed out, I feel really sorry for.

 

People don’t realise, but back then, KK was one of a kind, a new breed of manager who not only picked, trained and managed the players, he also managed the entire club. The club had nothing. He was the head scout, watching Andy Cole in a reserve game, chief of media, the club’s spokesman, fans liaison officer, greeting fans on the steps outside the Milburn when Cole was sold, the club’s chief negotiator in transfer deals and contract deals, negotiating on behalf of the club Sellars’ contract, he was the groundsman, cutting the grass himself with his own lawnmower, the kit man, supplying kits to youngsters and getting his wife to wash kits, the medic, booking appointments to see specialists, the players’ union man, negotiating Xmas bonuses for them, even the stadium architect, demanding corners be enclosed and each stand the same height, He was hands on, running the club, doing the work of ten men and the single biggest influence on and off the pitch behind the club’s meteoric rise and success.

 

And as luck would have it, in SJH he had a chairman who trusted him, who understood there was no one better placed than KK to build the club up from the bottom up and he also had in Freddy Shepherd and Freddie Fletcher two people who likewise gave way to his superior footballing knowledge, expertise, experience, vision and abilities. There was no scouting system, KK did his own scouting leaning on Terry Mac and Arthur Cox for input. There was no fitness and medical team or a big backroom coaching team either. KK took all training sessions, and him and his staff joined in at all times.

 

There was no media team, no public relations department or even a marketing team. Just KK who dragged this club up through the mud and scrubbed away all the dirt and really, ended up polishing a turd and turning shit into gold.

 

Man Utd at the time had an extensive domestic and European scouting system, they had a marketing team, Fergie didn’t coach, he oversaw training and was more of a manager than a coach or trainer. He had a medical team, a fitness team, people who would collate stats and feed him info on targets, the opposition and even his own players. He even had spies keeping tabs on players. Man Utd were a giant compared to Newcastle, a modern, fully equipped football club with Fergie the manager backed by a team of experts and resources under him and in the boardroom, with the biggest budget for transfers and wages and the best youth system

 

Newcastle United when KK walked into the club were 6m in debt and having to cover losses of 2m per season they simply couldn’t continue to cover without having a Gazza fo sell every year and getting full gates every home game. But in the short time KK was at the club, they went from all of that to a turnover second only to Man Utd some 6m behind at one point. From zero money to 50m + in a few years. A club with a then 44k + capacity to our 36k, who were a PLC with a global fanbase and extra revenues coming in from European football and prize money for winning the title. And we were gaining on them.

 

A turnaround in revenues and fortunes that without KK would never of materialised as the City become Toon daft, KK Mania sweeping the town like wildfire. Even grannies were buying kits, anything black and white or with an NUFC badge on it and people would buy it. Strips, videos, magazines, jackets, pencil cases, wallpaper, pens, postcards, everything and anything. The club were selling more merchandise than any other club, more replica shirts per match going fans and were even selling shirts in other parts of the country and abroad too. A money making machine all thanks to KK.

 

At one point the club was generating more revenue than Barcelona and Real Madrid, than Liverpool and Arsenal. Because of such a massive turnaround bringing in huge revenues - coupled with the increasing globalised popularity of the Premier League - Sir John Hall like any money man or businessman, decided to cash in on it all by listing the club on the SE which made him and other board members filthy rich, certainly beyond what money they themselves had invested in their shareholding.

 

Which on the surface of things should have been another positive step for the club, financially and sportingly. After all, our nearest rival Man Utd were a PLC too. Becoming a PLC, however, meant the club would be governed and restricted in what it could or could not do financially, the club’s money generated by all those fans paying for kits and whatever, was no longer the club’s to spend, but money belonging to what was now a PLC business, owned by shareholders. Owing accountability to banks, investors, to the market and not the fans and the sport.

 

From being able to break the world record transfer fee for Alan Shearer and being able to financially compete with and outspend anyone in world football to suddenly having to reduce costs, reduce spending, recoup money and give way to balance sheets and profit and loss forecasts over bringing in top players and spending at the level required to win titles. To such an extent the likes of Ian Rush, John Barnes and Stuart Pearce were signed on frees. SJH didn’t just  sell some of his shares, he sold out lock stock. He sold out on the fans, on KK and the whole club and what had been achieved and what they were all working towards achieving.

 

Which for KK was to make NUFC the best team in the world by winning the title, the European Cup, having the best players, playing the best football. Just like he experienced at Liverpool who back in ‘74 while playing for them against Newcastle at Wembley - beating us to win the League Cup - he looked over to the Geordies still cheering on their team, his dad’s team, and thought bloody hell... you’d think their team had won. He’d never experienced anything like it and afterwards several team-mates of his said imagine playing in front of that lot. KK of course went on to do just that.

 

He never forgot that day at Wembley, a Yorkshireman with black and white blood, it’s as if Wembley was his calling to go back to his roots, back then NUFC were the bigger more successful club with Liverpool having won fewer less silverware than Newcastle at that point. That’s right, in ‘74 Newcastle had won more trophies than Liverpool and were considered the bigger club. Oh how times changed...

 

When KK took over as manager, having played for Newcastle, he saw the potential, knew how desperate the fans and city were, not for success, but for their club to be the best it could be, asking why can’t we be as good as Liverpool or Man Utd, what do they have that we don’t. For KK it was a case of what do they not have that Newcastle does. And that for him, it was us, the fans.

 

When we won promotion to the PL he said, hand on heart, he couldn’t possibly match how great our support is with a greater team and that even winning trophies won’t top how great it is to just support Newcastle for fans, but he promised he would give fans a team as great as any, to watch play and to try and win titles because that’s the only way he said he’d be able to justify being the manager of our club, otherwise anything less and he’d be cheating us.

 

That way of thinking was huge in determining KK’s decision to leave in the new year of ‘97. I’m of the opinion we could have won the league that year, but by then the dream was over. KK didn’t quit on us, SJH and the club quit on him. If he couldn’t deliver what he promised because of moneymen dictating things or because the club suddenly had to operate more as a business and he’d have to comply and compromise in order to help the club achieve its targets as a business, him staying would have meant him selling out, short changing fans, his players and going back on his own promise to make NUFC the best team in the land, to win the title, sign the best players, to be bigger than Liverpool and Man Utd.

 

It needs to be said, he did try, he tried to work around it, but the club’s goals had changed from his own, he was no longer in charge, in control, Shepherd and Fletcher no longer worked for him and with him, Sir John Hall was no longer the sole owner, they worked for the PLC, the business. That’s what NUFC had become. KK wanted a replacement for Beardsley, he was looking at lots of players, Bergkamp being one of many on the list. KK was told he was out of their price range. He was told he would have to sell in order to buy and that a few clubs were willing to pay the same money what the club originally paid for Sir Les. KK wasn’t against selling him, but 6m wouldn’t pay for his replacement never mind Beardsley’s too. He wanted to bring in a top keepers and a top defender too. He was interested in Oliver Kahn and Laurent Blanc for example.

 

At that point not only was KK’s heart no longer in it like it once was and why should he when others’ clearly weren’t, but he was also in need of time out, emotionally and physically, he was tired and running on empty. He was less enthusiastic, more moody, less involved in practice matches and noticeably less himself full stop.

 

After a 7-1 win at home to Spurs which could have been double that, he resigned. He had had enough, but also felt the others had different ideas to his and they no longer shared the same goal and that they were content just being a top 6 club and raking in the money and content with what they had all achieved which Sir John Hall told KK himself, was like winning the title for this club and KK would have a job for life here, top 6, cup runs, maybe win one one day and keep fans entertained. Do that and you’re doing more than anyone dared to dream.

 

Only KK didn’t dare dream such an outcome, he dared NUFC to go out and make everyone’s ultimate dreams come true, winning the title, the European Cup, signing the best players, playing the best football, being the best team in the land. That’s what they all signed up to didn’t they?

 

Money corrupts everything, for KK his NUFC were a victim of their own commercial success, Sir John Hall said from the start this was a business venture, he was out to make money, and he did, but he could have done so all the same without selling out, had he done so and KK stayed, I’m convinced we would have won a league or two, become regulars in the CL and would have went on a similar path to Man Utd in terms of revenue growth and status as one of the biggest clubs in the world. A club Mike Ashley could never afford to buy for a start.

 

KK I salute you for not selling out, I salute Rafa for not selling out too. Those fans who continue to put money in Mike’s pockets, yous are the biggest sell outs of them all, you’ve sold your club out, all to watch Steve Bruce’s team play a PL fixture. Those who didn’t experience the KK years, that’s the potential of NUFC, that’s the club we will never be while Ashley is the owner and the club we should all fight to have, as KK did, as Rafa did.

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I don’t know where I’m going with this but there are a lot of young and new fans out there who have heard of KK, but are too young to have been around during what I regard as the halcyon days when he was our manager and through no fault of their own aren’t quite able to grasp or realise just how good a manager he was, what he achieved here and how innovative and amazing he was for that time.

 

What he achieved as a novice young manager here at NUFC with no prior experience was nothing short of sensational and if Keegan and his NUFC from 1992-1996 occurred today, he’d be hailed a genius, his style, his methods, his character and persona and his team would be talked about, written about, analysed, dissected and hyped beyond belief today. Forget Pep and Klopp, KK would be more than just the talk of the Toon, but the football world, if then was today.

 

Whatever people have heard or read about KK when it comes to tactics, forget it, KK understood the game and footballers better than anyone and his whole philosophy, his methods, his style, everything, can be traced back to the day he signed for Liverpool.

 

As a player KK was not naturally blessed with amazing skill like say Kenny Dalglish, athleticism, strength, pace and stature like say Steven Gerrard or natural at finishing like say Ian Rush or evening wing wizardry like John Barnes. What he did possess was a huge heart, decent technical ability and amazing stamina, energy and desire. When Bill Shankley gave him his debut, he told him I don’t want you to get on the ball and think about what you should do, but what you can do. At Liverpool we pass and move, pass and move, you’re in the team to get on that ball and look up and think, what can I do. Shankly knew KK like all his players could play, had the ability, they were all good footballers and good footballers can play anywhere on the park.

 

That liberated KK and set the tone for how he would play and how he as a manager wanted his players to play, his team and could play as they, like all good footballers, can play.

 

To give just a short example, David Batty was signed with the misconception that he would bring defensive steel to the team in midfield as a recognised defensive midfielder or anchorman, that’s what everyone thought and that’s what he himself thought.

 

Until coming in at half time not long after he signed in a game I can’t quite remember, but I do know we were not leading or losing. Batty come in to a right old bollocking by KK. What the f*** are you doing out there KK asked, which Batty went on to reply, doing what I’ve always done, doing the job you signed me to do. Batty wasn’t having a bad game or anything, he was sitting protecting the defence, giving simple passes left and right, picking it up deep and giving it to a team-mate short and crisp, neat and tidy. As he had done all his career.

 

That’s not what I signed you for KK told him, if I want a defender in front of the defence, I’ll play a defender. You’re in the team because you can pass, you can get from box to box, you can strike a ball, you can play, you’re a good footballer. So f***ing play.

 

Isn’t that what Rob Lee does gaffer? Aye, better than anyone else, better than you, but I want two Rob Lee’s in my team, no defence or midfield can handle two, one maybe now and again, but two? Don’t worry about defending, let the other team worry about defending. I want you to get on the ball, pass it, get it back, get forward and get in their box. Get goals.

 

Batty was flabbergasted, but would later reveal he enjoyed his football the most under KK and never knew quite how good a footballer he was until then. After he signed he was one of the best performers and most consistent players for KK. He didn’t score the number of goals KK wanted him to and thought he could, but he was more effective in the team getting forward than just as much as he was getting back.

 

Everyone in the team were footballers and restricted to certain positions, roles, tactics, commands, instructions and areas of the pitch would only restrict their footballing prowess, something had Shankly did with KK, he’d have never made it at Liverpool.

 

In training there was no tactical work, no work on systems, formations, moves or anything of the sort. The players practiced simple drills, shooting, crossing, corners, free kicks and above all else, pass and move, pass and move, with small sided games, defence vs attack, defence becoming attack vs attack becoming defence vs attack.

 

KK would regular pit attack vs defence and let them go, often the likes of Darren Peacock, Venison, Watson, Elliott and other defenders would smash the attackers in 5-a-side, even the ‘keepers got in on the action.

 

KK would often line-up 4-4-2 on paper, but the formation of the team often ended up looking like 1-3-3-3 or 1 in midfield, 5 in attack. We didn’t play with wingers, with a central striker or two up front or a flat back four, we played fluid, interchangeable football that would see the centre-back Albert play as a false number 9 I think they call it today, or Rob Lee through the middle with Shearer on the right wing and Sir Les on the left, or Cole all on his own supported by Sellars, Lee, Clark, Beardsley and Fox behind him with the defence pushed high up in the centre of the pitch in midfield and with the ‘keeper miles away in the distance hands on hip.

 

This wasn’t some elaborate design or tactical mastery, this was 11 talented footballers well versed in pass and move, attack attack, given the licence and freedom to express themselves when on the ball, there was no what should I do, but what can I do. And the result was mind blowing, exciting, unadulterated attacking football of the like never seen before at that time at Newcastle or any club, home or abroad. Not even today. Football that took a club destined for 3rd division football to within 4 points of winning the Premier League in 4 years. A brand of football termed too attack minded, too open, too naive, too defensively open.

 

And yet, that fateful season of ‘95-96 where we narrowly lost out on the title, we conceded less than a handful of goals more than the eventual Champions who were churning out 1-0 wins after 1-0 wins week in week out towards the end.

 

KK wasn’t tactically naive, or unwilling or unable to organise a defence, he was a genius ahead of his time who focused on the qualities of his players, trusting them and attack bring the best form of defence, he was so convinced by this way of playing, on winning promotion with a team of journeymen, a young forward rejected by Arsenal and despite popular myth, outspent by West Ham and Derby that promotion season, he told Alex Ferguson who had won the title that same season with Man Utd, NUFC were going to go toe to toe with them and anyone else standing in the way of him and his players fighting to bring the title back to Tyneside. Not eventually, not in a few years, but right away. NUFC were back in the big league and under KK, not to make up the numbers or try and not go back down, but to win the division.

 

He had never managed before, training didn’t involve tactics, formations, systems, defensive drills or anything, he had no training ground, training at Durham in the open, no real facilities either, he had Fazackerly his fitness trainer, Cox his mentor, Terry Mac his players’ rep and a club with a decaying stadium, 6m debt, no stars, relegation looming, no money to spend, a disenfranchised fanbase, a city still in recession and boardroom war raging above him. He come in and kept the team up, then he won promotion as Champions and in style, he then got the club back into Europe finishing 3rd, then 6th and then 2nd.

 

Transforming players like Rob Lee from no marks playing as a wide midfielder for Charlton into an England player, a goal scoring box to box player like a pre later day Lampard. He turned Andy Cole a 21 year old reject into a record breaking goalscorer, 41 goals in a season, the hottest young prospect in Europe, a record transfer. He got two centre-forwards conventional wisdom said couldn’t play together, to play together. Shearer and Sir Les. He brought Tino to England and played him, Shearer, Sir Les and Beardsley together up front. He brought Ginola to England and told him don’t worry about defending, attack attack attack. He brought Albert here and although he was a centre-back, he could play anywhere under KK and gave us one of the most memorable goals ever scored at St. James’ Park.

 

He brought a considered past his best Beardsley back, got him back into the England team and had him producing the best football he’s ever played, adding a few extra years onto his career. He gave the Premier League and SKY the Entertainers who everyone loved, who many fans had down as their second favourite team.

 

Even Eric Cantona was amazed, f***ing good team he said coming off after KK’s NUFC inflicted a 5-0 hammering over his lot. A match they actually played really well, we were just too good that day.

 

Fergie would later say NUFC would give him sleepless nights the most of any side during that era and that had KK’s team went into the second half of the ‘95-96 season as they did the start, which he feared they were more than capable of doing, he couldn’t see a way of stopping us going forward. They couldn’t outspend us, they couldn’t out play us, all they could do was try and keep up and they did, NUFC unable to keep up with the pace and level they had set. As Fergie had hoped and knew was the only way his team could win the league.

 

Forget mind games, forget the idea Tino coming effected the equilibrium of the team, forget ideas of a leaky defence or naive tactics, NUFC didn’t lose the title, we just weren’t quiet ready. The team lacked leaders, lacked experience, lacked the ability to deal with the pressure, to see it out all the way to the end. Players’ performances dipped too. It wasn’t meant to be that year. As for KK, what could he have done differently to what he was doing? Nothing, instead we should look at what he did differently to what everyone else was doing at that time, from Fergie to George Graham, what everyone else had done at Newcastle before him and even now after him and truly appreciate the genius of the man, the bravery, the balls, the sheer imagination, and above all else the unadulterated belief in our club that NUFC can be the best team in the land, and that’s what he give me as a supporter, that same belief.

 

Nowadays, because of KK we know we can be the best and that should always be the belief, we just need to try and go out to be the best, but that requires the best man for the job, the best man for our club, and KK was and always will be that man.

 

Rafa was too, in different ways. But KK, will forever remain, the best.

 

My hero, my idol, my absolute number 1 who when he took over our then tin pot club metaphorically lifted me up high on his shoulders and said son, open your eyes, I’m going to make your dream club, team, way of playing, turn true for you. And he did. That’s my NUFC, that’s everyone’s club, our club. That’s what anyone connected with our club, be it an owner, players, the manager, and fans, should belief in, believe in Newcastle United as KK did, more than anyone ever did or ever dared to.

 

He saw something in NUFC we wanted to believe in, but didn’t dare to, he did though and look what he made our club into. Now look at what we’ve allowed our club to become today, a club we can’t possibly believe in if we just let some c*** carry on destroying the club KK give back to us all and our city. Soon it will be gone for good.

 

#AshleyOut

 

Probably one of your best posts on here.

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Guest Howaythetoon

Couple of KK facts...

 

When he rejoined as manager under Ashley many claimed he did so for the money because he was skint or had blown his money on his failing Soccer Circus. Not true, KK did indeed invest a lot of money in that venture, but only a small amount to him, he was only one part of a larger investor group. KK is a wealthy man, a multi millionaire with assets and investments aplenty. He’s more cash rich than Mike Ashley.

 

When he returned he was on a 3m + 3 year contract, if he returned for the money, he would not have resigned. He resigned because he wasn’t willing to become a sell out, NUFC and the fans mean more to him than money, than just a mere job, it means and the fans too, the world to him, this was his dad’s club, his grandad’s club. NUFC is in his blood, he bleeds black and white like we all do.

 

Like any self respecting supporter, there was no way he was ever going to just stand by and let some cunt get away with fucking over his club, not for all the money in China, not for any job in the world. Without KK exposing 𝐀𝐬𝐡𝐥𝐞𝐲 and co as the robbing bastards that they are, we may all be none the wiser today. Those who don’t have a conscience take note, messrs Beardsley, Moncur, Shola. Shame on you all.

 

KK come back not because of the money, because it was a job offer or even because he thought he could finish the job he first started, but because when it’s Newcastle United, your club, your only club, you have no choice. Even today KK said if offered the job under a new owner who shared his feelings for the club, even on a tiny budget or as a lower league club, he’d feel obliged to take it if he thought he could help the club out for the better. He’d do it for nowt if he could.

 

As he initially did back in ‘92, his wages differed until safety was guaranteed and SJH had secured the club’s future financially. At that time SJH told him there was no money for Terry Mac, but if he secured full control, both would be paid what they were due. Unlike KK Terry wasn’t a wealthy man and couldn’t afford to work for nowt for a while where at the end, he may not get paid for his time at all. KK, being the generous man that he is, not only paid Terry Mac’s wages out of his own pocket, but he told SJH if he couldn’t keep the club up, whether he become the sole owner or not, he wouldn’t have to reimburse KK for TC’s money or pay KK’s wages. He even went a bit further and offered to give whatever SJH had put in buying up shares his money back if the club went down, with KK taking over the club as chairman/owner, running it, taking on the debt and making sure the club wouldn’t go bust.

 

He had planned to ask Cox to be the manager and would use his contacts to seek investment, at that late stage, KK was never going to let NUFC go to the wall, with or without SJH.

 

The rest is history of course and KK was repaid his wages owed and instead of asking for the money he had paid Terry Mac back, he made the club give his big mate a big fat juicy pay packet which they dully obliged. KK’s biggest mistake was not taking up shares from the offset and during the IPO. Shepherd wasn’t so daft, in the end he ended up 50m + up having first put in zero of his own money and then using dividend money buying back shares, basically the club’s money.

 

But aye, KK come back for the money, because he was skint. He’s always been a greedy bastard. When he signed as a player it was put in his contract he would get a percentage of gate money, on top of his already massive salary, sponsorship cut, goals and appearances bonus and future promo work with Newcastle Breweries. He was coining it in.

 

Being the greedy bastard he is, he decided to let the club keep his cut of the gate money providing they put it towards upgrading the changing rooms, kitting out the younger lads and reserves with better boots and training gear and splashed out on an Indians for the first-team now and again.

 

By that time he was already a millionaire, the David Beckham of his day capitalising on his commercial value as brand KK.

 

As manager of Newcastle, despite his success and the adulation of fans, if he was to get a pay rise or a extended contract, he made sure his staff did too.

 

From what I’ve learned, Ashley wanted KK as a friendly face who his presence alone would keep fans onside and happy while he set about screwing the club over in secret. The irony is, KK exposed him for what he is, fore warning everyone what lay ahead under Ashley, sadly some fans now think less of KK than they do Ashley... 

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Great reads HTT! I completely agree with everything you've written, why more people aren't able to see this stuff I do not know why.

It reminds me of an article I wrote back in 2014 which was all about looking at the business and entrepreneurship lessons we could learn from Kevin Keegan. I've copied and pasted excerpts of it below - yes I know it's super long but I thought I'd try and out-HTT, HTT! ;)

 

 

 

I started supporting Newcastle, like most people of my age during the Keegan years. 1994, to be exact – 20 years ago! And what years they were, full of flair and entertainment. I thought all football was like that, and that all teams played like that. It turns out, I was spoiled. Hmph.

 

1. Be Passionate

He has been called football’s last romantic. In an era flush with corporate interests and billion dollar TV deals, he represented the almost extinct purity of doing what you love, just because you love it. Passion is what Kevin Keegan is renowned for. It is probably the first thing you think of, when describing him. Everyone knows the “I’d love it if we beat them, LOVE IT!” quote, which became iconic of the man.

What is the power of passion? Passion has the power to GALVANIZE. If you truly believe in a vision, in a cause, in an ideology, you can convince anyone to believe in it too. When he joined Newcastle as manager in 1992, with NO previous experience, they were close to being relegated to the old Division 2. His sheer passion rallied the team and kept them up. They were promoted the very next season. If you share your leaders passion, you’ll work harder, you’ll fight tooth and nail, you’ll give every last drop of sweat to the cause. You are connected to your purpose and why you do what you do. THAT, is the power of passion.

 

2. Be Brave

You need your leaders to be brave. If your leaders are brave, chances are, you will be too. Or you’ll make more effort to be. I mentioned above, he joined Newcastle in 1992, a team where he was loved for his stint as a player in the early 80’s. He got one phone call, and despite not possessing any managerial experience, took the chance to save his old club from relegation. He had the supreme self-confidence to back himself to do the job. Failure would have meant letting down the fans who previously adorned him. Failure may have meant his management career would be over just as quickly as it started. None of that mattered.

He was brave in his decision making, preferring to trust his gut instinct over all else.

 

“I’ve seen what other people say about him. They think he’s a good player and warn about his temperament. But if I had signed players on the basis of what I heard about them, David Ginola and Andy Cole wouldn’t have come to this club and the fans would have missed some great players.”

 

“You’ve got to have the courage to look at what you need and get the very best available. That’s what I did. What other people think of players has never worried me. You listen to the talk, but you’ve got to make your own decisions. It’s on the field where it really matters.” – Keegan on signing Faustino Asprilla

 

He was also brave in his approach. Too often we see a pragmatic or overly tactical, defensive approach who play not-to-lose, as opposed to win. Park the bus syndrome, or counter-attack and we’ll score on the break. Nope, none of that here. Keegan was gung-ho. Attack is the best form of defence. Cliched as it is, his “Entertainers” team became associated with the ‘if you score three, we’ll score four” no-fear approach. In a role with considerable pressure and expectation, to not only have no fear oneself, but to stamp that on his teams is an extremely admirable quality. Imagine how productive and how much we could conquer, if we could first just conquer our fears?

 

3. Be Kind; Manage People and Emotions Well

Footballers are multi-millionaires, supremely talented and expected to perform week in, week out at an extremely high standard. If you look at someone like Messi or Ronaldo you don’t really see the human, you see the machine-level of productivity and performance, the uber-focus and intensity. It is easy to forget that they are people and have emotions too. This quote, from a recent BBC article says it all:

It meant a lot to Ginola at the time that his manager, Kevin Keegan, took him to one side and told him he could return to France when needed to, as he remembered the experience of feeling low at times when he first moved to Hamburg in Germany in his own playing days.

 

“When you are a foreigner, people are not interested that you need to go home, recharge yourself,” Ginola explained. “They pay a lot of money and they want results. Sometimes people forget that footballers are human beings. Keegan never forgot.”

Keegan’s kindness meant a lot to Ginola. They played a game of golf together in the rain (Keegan won on the last hole). “He told me: it’s not a problem. I know what you are going through.”

From a business perspective, how aware and empathetic are we of our staff’s human needs? Getting to know the person behind the job title can really help to solidify relationships and to extract that little bit extra from your employee. Not to mention build loyalty… more on that later.

 

4. Identify the A-Players and Manage Difficult Staff Proactively

Following on from the last point, it is especially harder to manage the match-winners, the playmakers, the goalscorers, the flair players. Time after time, it is these guys that tend to fall out with managers the most, for losing the ball, for not tracking back, for missing an easy chance perhaps. The flair players often suffer the most, as their natural tendencies are to create magic out of nowhere, hence it is easy to flit in and out of games as opposed to a workhorse type of player – who whilst they won’t win you games, can always perform the functions of their role in every game, win, lose or draw.

The example of supremely talented Hatem Ben Arfa, currently farmed out to Hull City after (rightly!) criticising Pardew’s methods, and that of the highly productive Laurent Robert before him, let go on a free transfer by Graeme Souness suggests that moody, creative French wingers have always had trouble at Newcastle. Keegan had one of his own, in David Ginola to deal with. How did he cope with managing a maverick?

“To be honest, I wasn’t so sure when we signed Ginola. He was a Frenchman who was supposed to be quite moody and a primadonna and at first I thought there would be problems. We trained a few times and had a few practice games and the rest of the players seemed to be doing all his running, especially fullback John Beresford. I started having a moan during the training session and after it, Keegan pulled me in. He left me in no doubt how he felt. “Look, I know he’s got his faults and I understand what you’re saying about his work rate but he could win us the league! So if you’ve got to do a bit extra, then you’ve got to do it.” – Rob Lee, Newcastle’s captain during the Keegan years

 

In a business environment,the most important thing is the overall company, and the numbers. It’s a results game, after all. If you have a superstar in your team, you need him to be doing the added-value things that others cannot simply do. You need to set up your teams to get the most out of such talent, as opposed to ‘clipping their wings’, or stifling them because other team members moan of inequality or unfairness. We often tend to spend time reactively, with the less talented members of the workforce, ensuring they fully understand their roles and what they need to do. With the A-Players, it is quite easy to leave them to it, to let them get on with doing what they do as they require less of your time and focus. However you need to adapt your methods to maximise them and what they bring, as opposed to a one-size fits all approach.

“On his day, there is no more skillful player in the league than David Ginola. Yet after his brilliant start, he produced his form only in odd flashes. I left him in the side hoping he’d come good. Deciding whether a player like this is worth his place overall is a delicate balancing act. I always came out on his side because I like talent and attacking football. You can’t have a player of his age sitting on the bench. You either play him or sell him.” – Kevin Keegan

 

If your superstar is doing (or capable of doing) phenomenal things which are way above even your pay-grade, then let him! Don’t restrict them, just cultivate and steer them. It all reflects well on you, anyway. To play down their strengths for fear of upsetting the others, or showing you up is the wrong approach entirely. Anything and everything is do-able, as long as you can influence your stakeholders and your team over to your way of thinking. Look around you, who is the Ben Arfa of your business?

 

5. Be the best at Motivation, Inspiration and Development

A great leader gets the most out of their staff, and develops them to another level. Not only that, he inspires them to great achievements and inspires a great deal of loyalty as a result.

Kevin really made me the player I hope I am today. I was probably an average first division player when I went to Newcastle – Kevin made me into an International player. He changed the position I played to benefit both myself and the team. After only a week at Newcastle, he said “You can play for England. If you want to then I believe you can”. It was a wonderful thing to be told, a great boost, though at the time I thought “I bet he says that to everyone!” – Rob Lee

 

Gerry Francis is the best tactician I’ve ever worked with, he worries about the opposition and how to stop them. Kevin was only worried from a tactical point of view about his own team. He felt if we played the way he wanted us to play, there wasn’t a side in the country who could touch us. He never specifically sat us down in pre-season to tell us this, it was just at his team talks and general chats that his philosophy and way of approaching things came across. – Les Ferdinand

 

Kevin always made us feel a million dollars every time we went out. He was just how I imagined him to be. He got me really motivated and when he spoke, you just wanted to play football. Out on the training ground he was the same, his enthusiasm came shining through. He had Terry McDermott with him and he was a terrific sidekick for him. They would laugh and joke with the players and join in the training sessions and that made it really enjoyable and created a great atmosphere. – Les Ferdinand

 

I flew back from Holland and Belgium thinking he was different class as a man and a manager. Keegan treated me as if I were Pele. He made me feel like I was the best player in the world. He made me feel so important. He gave me my debut and stood by me in my darkest hour. My respect for Kevin Keegan will never die. – Steven Gerrard

 

It was only when Keegan arrived that things looked up for a while. I’ll always have loyalty to him, because when he was England boss he always had a great deal of loyalty towards me. – Robbie Fowler

 

6. Always foster open Communication, and display Honesty and Respect

In the cut-throat, almost sinister era where the beautiful game has become the very symbol of capitalism and ruthless business decisions (and ironically, probably not represented anywhere as much as present-day Mike Ashley led Newcastle), Keegan represented that refreshing modicum of honesty and open communication that is almost dead in the modern game. Someone who stands up for his principles and for his people (the fans). He introduced open to the public training sessions, so the fans could enjoy watching their heroes train.

When Andy Cole was sold, much to the disgruntlement of the public, he went and faced the fans himself to explain personally why they did so. There is a great story about this exchange, here.

 

“From the kids to the grandmas. I learned a lot from him about how to respect the fans and everyone at the club which is why he was so loved and appreciated by so many people” – David Ginola

 

Communication is absolutely key as a leader. You have the ability in your communication to diffuse a potentially stormy situation, and to make a good situation great. In Jim Collins famous book ‘Good to Great’ one of the keys identified to turn a company from good to great was to ‘face the brutal facts but never lose faith’ – known as the Stockdale Paradox. Be open and transparent and people will understand bad news. More importantly, they will TRUST you. A great book well worth reading, on the importance of trust in business is The Speed of Trust, by Stephen M.R. Covey.

 

7. Dream big

For me, every successful entrepreneur needs to have a vision and to be a bit of a dreamer. And then get others to believe in that vision. Nothing is impossible, if you have the focus, desire and motivation to see it through. Of all of Keegan’s attributes, for me this was the biggest one, and the one that set him apart from anyone else. That level of optimism and positivity is infectious and can inspire you and your team to greatness. The following quotes, from the man himself encapsulate the vision:

From my previous experiences with Newcastle United I knew it was a massive club. It wasn’t just a sleeping giant, it was scarcely breathing. But I knew, because of those incredible supporters, that it could be turned around. I am not talking with the benefit of hindsight. You only have to look at my programme notes after we were promoted to the Premier League, in which I warned Alex Ferguson that we were after Manchester United’s title. We always set targets but they were realistic. If your ambitions are merely to consolidate – a word I despise – that is simply an excuse for accepting mediocrity.

Since I had made it clear I had no interest in club management there had been no serious offers. Anyway, who would want someone who had been out of the game as long as I had? The answer, of course, was Newcastle United – the only club which could have made me change my mind. I would not have even contemplated turning to management with Liverpool, but the whole ethos of Newcastle triggered something in my mind. The sheer energy bubbling below the surface gave St James’ Park more potential than anyone had dared to dream. All that untapped potential, pent up passion and the willingness of the supporters to really get behind the side made it a frustrating club to play for, but managing it would be something else. There was a strong chance of success. Everything that had gone before had been so mediocre that it could be attained very easily.

My first programme notes for that season summed up how we felt and the optimism circling the club “The Premier League must be our number 1 priority this season”. To some it seemed an outrageous statement, after all we’d just avoided relegation by only 4 points, but we wanted to tell everyone at the club – not just the players – that we were a massive club with ambitions to match. Our aim, I added, was to become another Liverpool and dominate football. We tried to turn all the past events at Newcastle on their head by thinking and talking positively. I’d spend hours reading books on positive mental attitude, management skills and the advanced thinking of experts like Vince Lombardi, and I still read them now.

At last I had the chance to put all this theory into practice. I was not promising the supporters a false dawn, what I was saying was that promotion was our main target and it was achievable. If we fell short of that, like a good politician, we’d address that at the time. We couldn’t expect to win every match, but we’d try.

 

“We went out to entertain a Geordie public who crave entertainment, and that required players of flair and imagination who dared to perform in a certain way. My side and the Geordie fans were a marriage made in heaven. Teams are usually all about defence. All the coaching manuals tell you to build from the back, that if you don’t concede a goal you can’t lose. I preferred to believe that if you didn’t score you couldn’t win.”

Newcastle United became the personification of the man himself, during his time there. Ambitious, full of charisma, entertaining, refreshing and extremely likeable. Probably the polar opposite of the club today. But reading some of the above quotes lets you know the extent of his vision. The mark of which, is still there to see at the club today, some 20 years on. Never ever let anyone stop you from dreaming.

 

To finish, a segment of Napoleon Hill’s classic ‘Think and Grow Rich’ which conveys this need to dream very well indeed.

“In planning to acquire your share of the riches, let no one influence you to scorn the dreamer. To win the big stakes in this changed world, you must catch the spirit of the great pioneers of the past, whose dreams have given to civilization all that it has of value, the spirit which serves as the life-blood of our own country–your opportunity and mine, to develop and market our talents.

Let us not forget, Columbus dreamed of an Unknown world, staked his life on the existence of such a world, and discovered it!

Copernicus, the great astronomer, dreamed of a multiplicity of worlds, and revealed them! No one denounced him as “impractical” after he had triumphed. Instead, the world worshipped at his shrine, thus proving once more that “SUCCESS REQUIRES NO APOLOGIES, FAILURE PERMITS NO ALIBIS.”

If the thing you wish to do is right, and you believe in it, go ahead and do it! Put your dream across, and never mind what “they” say if you meet with temporary defeat, for “they,” perhaps, do not know that EVERY FAILURE BRINGS WITH IT THE SEED OF AN EQUIVALENT SUCCESS.

Henry Ford, poor and uneducated, dreamed of a horseless carriage, went to work with what tools he possessed, without waiting for opportunity to favor him, and now evidence of his dream belts the entire earth. He has put more wheels into operation than any man who ever lived, because he was not afraid to back his dreams.

Thomas Edison dreamed of a lamp that could be operated by electricity, began where he stood to put his dream into action, and despite more than ten thousand failures, he stood by that dream until he made it a physical reality. Practical dreamers DO NOT QUIT!

Whelan dreamed of a chain of cigar stores, transformed his dream into action, and now the United Cigar Stores occupy the best corners in America.

Lincoln dreamed of freedom for the black slaves, put his dream into action, and barely missed living to see a united North and South translate his dream into reality.

The Wright brothers dreamed of a machine that would fly through the air. Now one may see evidence all over the world, that they dreamed soundly.

Marconi dreamed of a system for harnessing the intangible forces of the ether. Evidence that he did not dream in vain, may be found in every wireless and radio in the world. Moreover, Marconi’s dream brought the humblest cabin, and the most stately manor house side by side. It made the people of every nation on earth back-door neighbors. It gave the President of the United States a medium by which he may talk to all the people of America at one time, and on short notice. It may interest you to know that Marconi’s “friends” had him taken into custody, and examined in a psychopathic hospital, when he announced he had discovered a principle through which he could send messages through the air, without the aid of wires, or other direct physical means of communication. The dreamers of today fare better.

The world has become accustomed to new discoveries. Nay, it has shown a willingness to reward the dreamer who gives the world a new idea.

“The greatest achievement was, at first, and for a time, but a dream.”

“The oak sleeps in the acorn. The bird waits in the egg, and in the highest vision of the soul, a waking angel stirs. DREAMS ARE THE SEEDLINGS OF REALITY.”

Awake, arise, and assert yourself, you dreamers of the world. Your star is now in the ascendency. The world depression brought the opportunity you have been waiting for. It taught people humility, tolerance, and open-mindedness.

The world is filled with an abundance of OPPORTUNITY which the dreamers of the past never knew.

A BURNING DESIRE TO BE, AND TO DO is the starting point from which the dreamer must take off. Dreams are not born of indifference, laziness, or lack of ambition.

The world no longer scoffs at the dreamer, nor calls him impractical. If you think it does, take a trip to Tennessee, and witness what a dreamer President has done in the way of harnessing, and using the great water power of America. A score of years ago, such a dream would have seemed like madness..”

 

Like Keegan, that pioneer of the past, let us never stop dreaming.

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Guest Howaythetoon

Albert on KK’s generosity;

 

“On the way back, before we got on the motorway, Kevin used to stop the coach at a petrol station, go and buy some drinks out of his own pocket and bring them back for the team: red wine, white wine, lager, water, soft drinks. Then, when we passed a certain place on the M1, he would buy us all fish and chips.”

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Guest Howaythetoon

Great reads HTT! I completely agree with everything you've written, why more people aren't able to see this stuff I do not know why.

It reminds me of an article I wrote back in 2014 which was all about looking at the business and entrepreneurship lessons we could learn from Kevin Keegan. I've copied and pasted excerpts of it below - yes I know it's super long but I thought I'd try and out-HTT, HTT! ;)

 

 

 

I started supporting Newcastle, like most people of my age during the Keegan years. 1994, to be exact – 20 years ago! And what years they were, full of flair and entertainment. I thought all football was like that, and that all teams played like that. It turns out, I was spoiled. Hmph.

 

1. Be Passionate

He has been called football’s last romantic. In an era flush with corporate interests and billion dollar TV deals, he represented the almost extinct purity of doing what you love, just because you love it. Passion is what Kevin Keegan is renowned for. It is probably the first thing you think of, when describing him. Everyone knows the “I’d love it if we beat them, LOVE IT!” quote, which became iconic of the man.

What is the power of passion? Passion has the power to GALVANIZE. If you truly believe in a vision, in a cause, in an ideology, you can convince anyone to believe in it too. When he joined Newcastle as manager in 1992, with NO previous experience, they were close to being relegated to the old Division 2. His sheer passion rallied the team and kept them up. They were promoted the very next season. If you share your leaders passion, you’ll work harder, you’ll fight tooth and nail, you’ll give every last drop of sweat to the cause. You are connected to your purpose and why you do what you do. THAT, is the power of passion.

 

2. Be Brave

You need your leaders to be brave. If your leaders are brave, chances are, you will be too. Or you’ll make more effort to be. I mentioned above, he joined Newcastle in 1992, a team where he was loved for his stint as a player in the early 80’s. He got one phone call, and despite not possessing any managerial experience, took the chance to save his old club from relegation. He had the supreme self-confidence to back himself to do the job. Failure would have meant letting down the fans who previously adorned him. Failure may have meant his management career would be over just as quickly as it started. None of that mattered.

He was brave in his decision making, preferring to trust his gut instinct over all else.

 

“I’ve seen what other people say about him. They think he’s a good player and warn about his temperament. But if I had signed players on the basis of what I heard about them, David Ginola and Andy Cole wouldn’t have come to this club and the fans would have missed some great players.”

 

“You’ve got to have the courage to look at what you need and get the very best available. That’s what I did. What other people think of players has never worried me. You listen to the talk, but you’ve got to make your own decisions. It’s on the field where it really matters.” – Keegan on signing Faustino Asprilla

 

He was also brave in his approach. Too often we see a pragmatic or overly tactical, defensive approach who play not-to-lose, as opposed to win. Park the bus syndrome, or counter-attack and we’ll score on the break. Nope, none of that here. Keegan was gung-ho. Attack is the best form of defence. Cliched as it is, his “Entertainers” team became associated with the ‘if you score three, we’ll score four” no-fear approach. In a role with considerable pressure and expectation, to not only have no fear oneself, but to stamp that on his teams is an extremely admirable quality. Imagine how productive and how much we could conquer, if we could first just conquer our fears?

 

3. Be Kind; Manage People and Emotions Well

Footballers are multi-millionaires, supremely talented and expected to perform week in, week out at an extremely high standard. If you look at someone like Messi or Ronaldo you don’t really see the human, you see the machine-level of productivity and performance, the uber-focus and intensity. It is easy to forget that they are people and have emotions too. This quote, from a recent BBC article says it all:

It meant a lot to Ginola at the time that his manager, Kevin Keegan, took him to one side and told him he could return to France when needed to, as he remembered the experience of feeling low at times when he first moved to Hamburg in Germany in his own playing days.

 

“When you are a foreigner, people are not interested that you need to go home, recharge yourself,” Ginola explained. “They pay a lot of money and they want results. Sometimes people forget that footballers are human beings. Keegan never forgot.”

Keegan’s kindness meant a lot to Ginola. They played a game of golf together in the rain (Keegan won on the last hole). “He told me: it’s not a problem. I know what you are going through.”

From a business perspective, how aware and empathetic are we of our staff’s human needs? Getting to know the person behind the job title can really help to solidify relationships and to extract that little bit extra from your employee. Not to mention build loyalty… more on that later.

 

4. Identify the A-Players and Manage Difficult Staff Proactively

Following on from the last point, it is especially harder to manage the match-winners, the playmakers, the goalscorers, the flair players. Time after time, it is these guys that tend to fall out with managers the most, for losing the ball, for not tracking back, for missing an easy chance perhaps. The flair players often suffer the most, as their natural tendencies are to create magic out of nowhere, hence it is easy to flit in and out of games as opposed to a workhorse type of player – who whilst they won’t win you games, can always perform the functions of their role in every game, win, lose or draw.

The example of supremely talented Hatem Ben Arfa, currently farmed out to Hull City after (rightly!) criticising Pardew’s methods, and that of the highly productive Laurent Robert before him, let go on a free transfer by Graeme Souness suggests that moody, creative French wingers have always had trouble at Newcastle. Keegan had one of his own, in David Ginola to deal with. How did he cope with managing a maverick?

“To be honest, I wasn’t so sure when we signed Ginola. He was a Frenchman who was supposed to be quite moody and a primadonna and at first I thought there would be problems. We trained a few times and had a few practice games and the rest of the players seemed to be doing all his running, especially fullback John Beresford. I started having a moan during the training session and after it, Keegan pulled me in. He left me in no doubt how he felt. “Look, I know he’s got his faults and I understand what you’re saying about his work rate but he could win us the league! So if you’ve got to do a bit extra, then you’ve got to do it.” – Rob Lee, Newcastle’s captain during the Keegan years

 

In a business environment,the most important thing is the overall company, and the numbers. It’s a results game, after all. If you have a superstar in your team, you need him to be doing the added-value things that others cannot simply do. You need to set up your teams to get the most out of such talent, as opposed to ‘clipping their wings’, or stifling them because other team members moan of inequality or unfairness. We often tend to spend time reactively, with the less talented members of the workforce, ensuring they fully understand their roles and what they need to do. With the A-Players, it is quite easy to leave them to it, to let them get on with doing what they do as they require less of your time and focus. However you need to adapt your methods to maximise them and what they bring, as opposed to a one-size fits all approach.

“On his day, there is no more skillful player in the league than David Ginola. Yet after his brilliant start, he produced his form only in odd flashes. I left him in the side hoping he’d come good. Deciding whether a player like this is worth his place overall is a delicate balancing act. I always came out on his side because I like talent and attacking football. You can’t have a player of his age sitting on the bench. You either play him or sell him.” – Kevin Keegan

 

If your superstar is doing (or capable of doing) phenomenal things which are way above even your pay-grade, then let him! Don’t restrict them, just cultivate and steer them. It all reflects well on you, anyway. To play down their strengths for fear of upsetting the others, or showing you up is the wrong approach entirely. Anything and everything is do-able, as long as you can influence your stakeholders and your team over to your way of thinking. Look around you, who is the Ben Arfa of your business?

 

5. Be the best at Motivation, Inspiration and Development

A great leader gets the most out of their staff, and develops them to another level. Not only that, he inspires them to great achievements and inspires a great deal of loyalty as a result.

Kevin really made me the player I hope I am today. I was probably an average first division player when I went to Newcastle – Kevin made me into an International player. He changed the position I played to benefit both myself and the team. After only a week at Newcastle, he said “You can play for England. If you want to then I believe you can”. It was a wonderful thing to be told, a great boost, though at the time I thought “I bet he says that to everyone!” – Rob Lee

 

Gerry Francis is the best tactician I’ve ever worked with, he worries about the opposition and how to stop them. Kevin was only worried from a tactical point of view about his own team. He felt if we played the way he wanted us to play, there wasn’t a side in the country who could touch us. He never specifically sat us down in pre-season to tell us this, it was just at his team talks and general chats that his philosophy and way of approaching things came across. – Les Ferdinand

 

Kevin always made us feel a million dollars every time we went out. He was just how I imagined him to be. He got me really motivated and when he spoke, you just wanted to play football. Out on the training ground he was the same, his enthusiasm came shining through. He had Terry McDermott with him and he was a terrific sidekick for him. They would laugh and joke with the players and join in the training sessions and that made it really enjoyable and created a great atmosphere. – Les Ferdinand

 

I flew back from Holland and Belgium thinking he was different class as a man and a manager. Keegan treated me as if I were Pele. He made me feel like I was the best player in the world. He made me feel so important. He gave me my debut and stood by me in my darkest hour. My respect for Kevin Keegan will never die. – Steven Gerrard

 

It was only when Keegan arrived that things looked up for a while. I’ll always have loyalty to him, because when he was England boss he always had a great deal of loyalty towards me. – Robbie Fowler

 

6. Always foster open Communication, and display Honesty and Respect

In the cut-throat, almost sinister era where the beautiful game has become the very symbol of capitalism and ruthless business decisions (and ironically, probably not represented anywhere as much as present-day Mike Ashley led Newcastle), Keegan represented that refreshing modicum of honesty and open communication that is almost dead in the modern game. Someone who stands up for his principles and for his people (the fans). He introduced open to the public training sessions, so the fans could enjoy watching their heroes train.

When Andy Cole was sold, much to the disgruntlement of the public, he went and faced the fans himself to explain personally why they did so. There is a great story about this exchange, here.

 

“From the kids to the grandmas. I learned a lot from him about how to respect the fans and everyone at the club which is why he was so loved and appreciated by so many people” – David Ginola

 

Communication is absolutely key as a leader. You have the ability in your communication to diffuse a potentially stormy situation, and to make a good situation great. In Jim Collins famous book ‘Good to Great’ one of the keys identified to turn a company from good to great was to ‘face the brutal facts but never lose faith’ – known as the Stockdale Paradox. Be open and transparent and people will understand bad news. More importantly, they will TRUST you. A great book well worth reading, on the importance of trust in business is The Speed of Trust, by Stephen M.R. Covey.

 

7. Dream big

For me, every successful entrepreneur needs to have a vision and to be a bit of a dreamer. And then get others to believe in that vision. Nothing is impossible, if you have the focus, desire and motivation to see it through. Of all of Keegan’s attributes, for me this was the biggest one, and the one that set him apart from anyone else. That level of optimism and positivity is infectious and can inspire you and your team to greatness. The following quotes, from the man himself encapsulate the vision:

From my previous experiences with Newcastle United I knew it was a massive club. It wasn’t just a sleeping giant, it was scarcely breathing. But I knew, because of those incredible supporters, that it could be turned around. I am not talking with the benefit of hindsight. You only have to look at my programme notes after we were promoted to the Premier League, in which I warned Alex Ferguson that we were after Manchester United’s title. We always set targets but they were realistic. If your ambitions are merely to consolidate – a word I despise – that is simply an excuse for accepting mediocrity.

Since I had made it clear I had no interest in club management there had been no serious offers. Anyway, who would want someone who had been out of the game as long as I had? The answer, of course, was Newcastle United – the only club which could have made me change my mind. I would not have even contemplated turning to management with Liverpool, but the whole ethos of Newcastle triggered something in my mind. The sheer energy bubbling below the surface gave St James’ Park more potential than anyone had dared to dream. All that untapped potential, pent up passion and the willingness of the supporters to really get behind the side made it a frustrating club to play for, but managing it would be something else. There was a strong chance of success. Everything that had gone before had been so mediocre that it could be attained very easily.

My first programme notes for that season summed up how we felt and the optimism circling the club “The Premier League must be our number 1 priority this season”. To some it seemed an outrageous statement, after all we’d just avoided relegation by only 4 points, but we wanted to tell everyone at the club – not just the players – that we were a massive club with ambitions to match. Our aim, I added, was to become another Liverpool and dominate football. We tried to turn all the past events at Newcastle on their head by thinking and talking positively. I’d spend hours reading books on positive mental attitude, management skills and the advanced thinking of experts like Vince Lombardi, and I still read them now.

At last I had the chance to put all this theory into practice. I was not promising the supporters a false dawn, what I was saying was that promotion was our main target and it was achievable. If we fell short of that, like a good politician, we’d address that at the time. We couldn’t expect to win every match, but we’d try.

 

“We went out to entertain a Geordie public who crave entertainment, and that required players of flair and imagination who dared to perform in a certain way. My side and the Geordie fans were a marriage made in heaven. Teams are usually all about defence. All the coaching manuals tell you to build from the back, that if you don’t concede a goal you can’t lose. I preferred to believe that if you didn’t score you couldn’t win.”

Newcastle United became the personification of the man himself, during his time there. Ambitious, full of charisma, entertaining, refreshing and extremely likeable. Probably the polar opposite of the club today. But reading some of the above quotes lets you know the extent of his vision. The mark of which, is still there to see at the club today, some 20 years on. Never ever let anyone stop you from dreaming.

 

To finish, a segment of Napoleon Hill’s classic ‘Think and Grow Rich’ which conveys this need to dream very well indeed.

“In planning to acquire your share of the riches, let no one influence you to scorn the dreamer. To win the big stakes in this changed world, you must catch the spirit of the great pioneers of the past, whose dreams have given to civilization all that it has of value, the spirit which serves as the life-blood of our own country–your opportunity and mine, to develop and market our talents.

Let us not forget, Columbus dreamed of an Unknown world, staked his life on the existence of such a world, and discovered it!

Copernicus, the great astronomer, dreamed of a multiplicity of worlds, and revealed them! No one denounced him as “impractical” after he had triumphed. Instead, the world worshipped at his shrine, thus proving once more that “SUCCESS REQUIRES NO APOLOGIES, FAILURE PERMITS NO ALIBIS.”

If the thing you wish to do is right, and you believe in it, go ahead and do it! Put your dream across, and never mind what “they” say if you meet with temporary defeat, for “they,” perhaps, do not know that EVERY FAILURE BRINGS WITH IT THE SEED OF AN EQUIVALENT SUCCESS.

Henry Ford, poor and uneducated, dreamed of a horseless carriage, went to work with what tools he possessed, without waiting for opportunity to favor him, and now evidence of his dream belts the entire earth. He has put more wheels into operation than any man who ever lived, because he was not afraid to back his dreams.

Thomas Edison dreamed of a lamp that could be operated by electricity, began where he stood to put his dream into action, and despite more than ten thousand failures, he stood by that dream until he made it a physical reality. Practical dreamers DO NOT QUIT!

Whelan dreamed of a chain of cigar stores, transformed his dream into action, and now the United Cigar Stores occupy the best corners in America.

Lincoln dreamed of freedom for the black slaves, put his dream into action, and barely missed living to see a united North and South translate his dream into reality.

The Wright brothers dreamed of a machine that would fly through the air. Now one may see evidence all over the world, that they dreamed soundly.

Marconi dreamed of a system for harnessing the intangible forces of the ether. Evidence that he did not dream in vain, may be found in every wireless and radio in the world. Moreover, Marconi’s dream brought the humblest cabin, and the most stately manor house side by side. It made the people of every nation on earth back-door neighbors. It gave the President of the United States a medium by which he may talk to all the people of America at one time, and on short notice. It may interest you to know that Marconi’s “friends” had him taken into custody, and examined in a psychopathic hospital, when he announced he had discovered a principle through which he could send messages through the air, without the aid of wires, or other direct physical means of communication. The dreamers of today fare better.

The world has become accustomed to new discoveries. Nay, it has shown a willingness to reward the dreamer who gives the world a new idea.

“The greatest achievement was, at first, and for a time, but a dream.”

“The oak sleeps in the acorn. The bird waits in the egg, and in the highest vision of the soul, a waking angel stirs. DREAMS ARE THE SEEDLINGS OF REALITY.”

Awake, arise, and assert yourself, you dreamers of the world. Your star is now in the ascendency. The world depression brought the opportunity you have been waiting for. It taught people humility, tolerance, and open-mindedness.

The world is filled with an abundance of OPPORTUNITY which the dreamers of the past never knew.

A BURNING DESIRE TO BE, AND TO DO is the starting point from which the dreamer must take off. Dreams are not born of indifference, laziness, or lack of ambition.

The world no longer scoffs at the dreamer, nor calls him impractical. If you think it does, take a trip to Tennessee, and witness what a dreamer President has done in the way of harnessing, and using the great water power of America. A score of years ago, such a dream would have seemed like madness..”

 

Like Keegan, that pioneer of the past, let us never stop dreaming.

 

Great read, thanks for sharing  :rose:

 

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Is this available in paperback?

 

:lol:  I'm sure there's some great stuff in there, will have a look through properly at some point, but that bit about Ashley wanting him as a friendly face so he could keep on screwing us over in secret is obviously true. He's done the same with Beardsley, Concur and now Bruce. Obviously Keegan had too much of a spine to ever allow himself to be used like that once he realised what was going on.

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The bit in the original HTT post about us selling everything black and white, pencil cases etc and grannies wanting replica shirts, why can't anyone see that potential? Prospective buyers that is. There must be someone out there...PLEASE!

 

HTT is spot on with that point (as he is in the whole post TBF)

 

I was working at a printers when KK was in his first managerial stint and we did a LOAD of unofficial overtime printing  NUFC related guvvy jobs.

 

We had printed the  NUFC car stickers that Metro used to give away, so we doctored the design and ran off thousands for a local newsagent to sell. T-shirts and posters too, people would buy any old crap as long as it had Keegan or Newcastle United on it.

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My dad used to have business in the UK between 94-97 as well as visited his family in Leicester. He told me about Keegan, and would describe at length how they used to play. He’d brought back VHS recordings of matches that were on sky and we’d get these things converted so I could watch at home. He’d bring me back a bag load of random Newcastle merch. I had a Shearer poster, NUFC hat. NUFC pencils. My friends had no clue what the fuck I was on about here in FL. I had the kits. I had paper clippings. This was really after KK left, but I was hooked. I was hooked on this dream that KK fed my Dad who didn’t even support us - he’s a Leicester guy. But he loved KK so anytime I talked of NUFC and still today - he’d say how much it was KKs club and he should still be running that place as the CEO etc.

 

Small anecdote but as a kid, I can’t imagine how much NUFC stuff I’d have had if it wasn’t just 2-3 trips where my dad would bring over as much as he could fit in his luggage.

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Magic.

 

Not sure if in response to my post...but figured I'd add context to my original post.

 

Old man was going to UK and telling his younger brothers (who lived near us, both idolized KK growing up) about Newcastle's team being managed by Keegan when we had family gatherings on weekends. And i just started playing the sport and had just watched World Cup 94 and become obsessed with the sport. He was saying Newcastle under Keegan had this Cole fella paired with Beardsley and they just finished 3rd in the league. Then the following season would keep talking about Blackburn, Shearer, Keegan and Newcastle. Keep rolling forward and I was the biggest Shearer fan and they used to air some matches on ESPN 2 and Setanta so got to see the PL for the first time at home or at our friend's bar on Saturday mornings via satellite. ESPN aired Euro 96, became a massive England supporter (my family still support England as their team), and then he eventually signed for NUFC...rest is history.

 

The more I think about it - if it wasn't for my family's love of Keegan from their time living in England from 1970ish to 1979...I probably would never have become a Newcastle supporter. If he didn't convince my idol Alan Shearer to join, I probably would never have become a NUFC fan.

 

Incredible stuff really. Keegan made an impact on my dad and his brothers and eventually all the way over in FL it played a major part on changing my life.

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