Newcastle legend Kevin Keegan spoke directly to the club’s fans last night, sharing his thoughts on our battle to attract ‘big players’ and the key way he’d overcome that issue.
The former Magpies player and manager, who came within a whisker of leading the club to Premier League glory in 1995/96, was speaking at an event at the Lancastrian Suite in Dunston, alongside Peter Beardsley, Chris Waddle, and Brian McDermott.
Speaking openly, Keegan told the 700 strong crowd his current views on the barriers a club like Newcastle must face:
“You had more chance in the 1970’s and 80’s than you have now.
“Attracting the big players now is always going to be difficult because of the London clubs.
“The big players now are mainly foreign players, no disrespect to the English players.
“So all those things have conspired to go against us because of the location.”
King Kev did however add that there is still “no reason” why Newcastle fans can’t dream big again, suggesting it’s more important than ever for the club to bring through top youngsters again:
“There is no reason why they can’t get it back.”
“I think this time it has to start with youngsters coming through again. It has to be a different way.
“You won’t get big-name players to Newcastle because the really big ones will now go to Man United, Man City or Liverpool, Tottenham, Arsenal or Chelsea, and then after that you are pitching in with the others.”
There is truth to this, any any foreign players coming to the Premier League with Newcastle United may often use us as a stepping-stone towards a ‘bigger club’.
Just look at Sean Longstaff. He’s barely cost us a penny, but in him we not only have loyalty but a real quality player who’s ready to give his all for Newcastle United – not get distracted by a move to Manchester United.
On the flip side, I think of Yohan Cabaye, for example. A very good player but someone who jumped at the chance to move on when a big move came his way.
The club’s academy hasn’t produced much of note over the last 10/15 years but recently has shown signs of improvement with the Longstaff brothers coming through the ranks and both Carroll and Dummett becoming first-team stars. The likes of Elias Sorensen could be the next to break through, but we need more and a regular stream of talent ready to cut it at senior level.
Kevin Keegan’s opinion on the club is valued on Tyneside. The former boss has been critical of the current regime at the club in the past, having worked under Mike Ashley upon his return to the club in 2008. The respect he still gains from the area was highlighted by the attendance of the crowd last night, with punters paying in upwards of £150 for a ticket to hear the ex-Mag speak.