Make no mistake. Kevin Keegan once upon a time saved this club and with that helped drag the entire city out of the doldrums introducing a feel-good factor which nearly ended with us winning a league title in the mid-nineties.
I honestly can’t speak highly enough of the man for his efforts on Tyneside. I was too young to remember him as a player for United, but his first stint as manager of NUFC was magical and whilst people will undoubtedly remember results like the 5-0 thumping of Manchester United the foundation for such results was put in place a few years previously when Keegan saved us from slipping into the third tier of English football for the first time in our history.
Sir John Hall has said that the club may well have folded had such a scenario occurred and the elation, joy and relief amongst the crowd when David Kelly scored that goal against Portsmouth to save us was up there with some of the best atmospheres I can remember.
Fast forward 12 months and a 7-1 thrashing of Leicester on the final day of the season put the icing on the cake of an incredible promotion season. Newcastle United were back in the big time, in a young Premier League, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Eventually Keegan left the club nearly five years after his appointment, and what a five years it was. Those memories were more than likely the catalyst to the excitement experienced when he returned to manage us for a second time in in 2008, 11 years after his departure first time round. However harmony didn’t last long and Keegan and Ashley soon fell out before going separate ways in very dubious and contentious circumstances which ended up with Keegan making a claim for constructive dismissal against the club, a claim he subsequently won.
Relations between Ashley and Keegan are obviously not great and Keegan has voiced those opinions on occasion. Not directly, but indirectly he has questioned the club which is of course his right to do, in much the same way we all have a right to question things.
And that is exactly what Keegan has done again. Speaking at a Soccerex event in Manchester, Keegan was asked about United and what the summer may hold. His reply has annoyed me a little:
“Some [players] will move on and I think that’s what Newcastle want. I think they are a selling club. They didn’t give Ba the sort of security in his deal,” said Keegan.
“I think they are going to move players on and if they can keep Graham Carr and he can keep finding them, I don’t think the Geordies care whose name is on the back as long as they come and play well and give their all.”
“I know Graham Carr very well and I employed him at Manchester City, He knows the French league and it is a good policy because they get very good quality players in who want to prove themselves in the Premier League.”
Praise on one hand, criticism on the other. It’s the label of us being a “selling club” that has annoyed me though. A lot of fans used to throw it around but when you look at the deals we’ve actually done there aren’t many that we either couldn’t do much about or haven’t benefited us in some way. Just look at some of the most recent ones…
Demba Ba: The one Keegan mentioned had a clause put into his contract due to his dodgy knee which has so far been fine. It wasn’t just with us where there was clause though as one was present at Hoffenheim which eventually allowed him to move to West Ham, where another clause saw him move to us. Anyone see a pattern here?
Andy Carroll: Yes the decision to sell so late in the window without a replacement was a bad one, but for £35 million could we really turn it down?
Jose Enrique: Had issues, was nearing his contract end and wouldn’t sign another. What do you do? Keep an uninterested player and let him go for nothing at the end of his deal or try and recoup some cash for him?
Kevin Nolan: The one that got away for me. He would still be good for us but he wouldn’t be guaranteed a starting spot and couldn’t get the kind of contract, cash or assurances he wanted whilst at Newcastle. Basically a move suited al parties.
Joey Barton: Had one good season for us out of four and was a liability in fairness. Released on a free, his Twitter shenanigans were funny but also disruptive and I’m glad he’s not our problem. His actions since leaving us have done nothing to change my mind on that one.
Leon Best, Peter Lovenkrands and Danny Guthrie: They would have been handy to keep around in all honesty but only because areas of our squad lack depth. Guthrie wouldn’t get anywhere near the first-team these days barring a central midfield injury crisis, same with Best and Lovenkrands who would just beef up our bench which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
My point being is that it’s easy to say we are a selling club, but it’s wide of the mark. We got good money (in my opinion) for all players who left for a fee and those who left for free were surplus to requirement in one way or another.
Whilst I’m aware that we’re always open for business, I’m also aware that we’ll only sell of the offer is right for the club. Keegan might be right and we might let some players go, but it’ll be for top whack which doesn’t make us a selling club although at least he does at least realise that the squad will be replenished.
I just think Keegan’s viewpoint is outdated on this subject. I love the bloke but realistically, barring a couple of clubs at the top of the footballing pyramid, ALL clubs are selling clubs in one way or another, and it doesn’t have to always be a bad thing.
I realise this is a divisive issue here and that I’ll be cutting close to the bone with some folk for disagreeing with Keegan and discussion might get a bit heated so please respect others opinions and keep abuse to a sane level whilst conversing with each other. Here goes…
What do you think of his statement?