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Keegan’s return may not bring trophies but fans will enjoy the ride

January 17, 2008

A Newcastle fan poses with a King Kev shirt

Amid the humdrum fare that makes up the bulk of the Premier League, Kevin Keegan’s return to Newcastle should be welcomed by fans of football and drama, whatever their persuasion.

Some pundits have sneered at the deluded supporters welcoming their Messiah, pointing out that he didn’t actually win anything during his five years as manager and instead should take much of the blame for blowing a 12-point lead to allow Manchester United to overhaul them for the title in 1996.

But supporting a football team, most teams anyway, is all about hope and trying to enjoy the journey because for the vast majority, every season ends in disappointment.

That is if you consider not winning a trophy to be failure, which unfortunately is not the case for the bulk of the Premier League, where the target each August is to finish above the bottom three nine months later. What joy.

Newcastle fans have always expected more, even when their team was hurtling towards the old third division, and the fact that it was Keegan the player who largely prevented that ignominy ensured he had a place in the fans’ hearts forever.

That he came back as manager and soon had his team not only challenging for honours, but doing so in an exhilarating, joyous, devil-take-the-hindmost style catapulted their affection for the Little Fellah into the stratosphere.

Sam Allardyce’s pragmatic approach might please chairmen and shareholders and secure an annual influx of TV millions by guaranteeing Premier League survival but it does not get the pulse racing.

The comings and goings of men like Allardyce, Harry Redknapp, Steve Bruce, Paul Jewell, Graeme Souness is a merry-go-round of managerial mediocrity, where 17th place is success and mid-table the equivalent of winning the Champions League.

Keegan is different: he wants more and the fans will back him in the way that they would never have backed Didier Deschamps or Gerard Houllier.

The chances are, of course, that for all his force of will, Newcastle’s title drought will roll into a ninth decade and, by measurement of the honours board, Keegan will fail.

But for the revitalised Geordie fans who will go to work with an extra skip in their step today, they know they will have fun trying.

Mitch Phillips is head of Reuters UK Sports Reporting

PHOTO: Newcastle fan Sophie Ross poses with her new shirt outside the ground before the FA Cup third round replay against Stoke City at St James’ Park, January 16, 2008. REUTERS/Nigel Roddis

Comments

That’s about spot on, I’d say. Humdrum indeed was Sam Allardyce. Kevin Keegan is anything but.

Posted by London | Report as abusive
 

We talk about Keegan’s flowing football at Newcastle but his England team was possible the worst, and dullest, on record. Even McClaren’s was better.
Phil Neville and and an ageing Dennis Wise were in the Euro 2000 first XI.

Posted by Mark Meadows | Report as abusive
 

The one person in the club who won’t be enjoying the ride is Michael Owen, as Keegan doesn’t rate him.

Posted by Cy Nical | Report as abusive
 

I think he will still play Owen because the fans want to see him in the starting line-up.

I agree with London though, it’s pretty much spot on.

When I saw he had been appointed I was really surprised, but I can see why now. He’s certainly the fans’ choice and they are who needed to be won over. From an outsiders point of view, I think Houllier or Deschamps would have been better appointments. If I were a Toon fan however, I can see that I would probably see differently.

I just wonder if Kev knows how much the game has changed since his time? It showed an interview with Keegan from three months ago during half-time in the Man City V West Ham game on Wednesday. He said that he would never return to football and that he hadn’t even watched a game for months. Surely that can’t be good?

 

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