Monday, 21 January 2008

Toon Army welcomes Kevin Keegan back to St James' Park

Kevin Keegan has been welcomed back to Tyneside, 11 years after his first stint as manager of Newcastle United. "King Kev says he's determined to bring "attractive winning football, and silverware" back to St James' Park.

Newcastle currently sit 12th in the Premier League, and have been flirting with the relegation zone. Keegan has ambitious plans to transform the club, and believes it can start challenging the top four teams within a short period.

Former Newcastle strike Les Ferdinand is also expected to be part of the new-look coaching staff, and he's still keen to speak more with the club's all-time leading scorer Alan Shearer about some sort of role within the club.

Keegan was previously the manager at Newcastle from 1992-97, taking the team from the brink of (the former) third division to runners up for the Premier League title two years running.

Despite speculation that Keegan would want to offload striker Michael Owen as soon as possible, he chose to make him captain. In Owen's autobiography, the footballer described his time in the England team under Keegan as a "dark phase", and that he began to resent him as a manager.
But Keegan says Owen is the right guy to lead Newcastle United, "and that tells you what I think of him". Owen for his part insists he's more committed than ever to staying at Newcastle following the return of Kevin Keegan.

Keegan has revealed privately that he has "a bottomless pit" of funds at his disposal to bolster his squad, thanks to billionaire owner Mike Ashley. But he'll have to act quickly, with just less than a fortnight remaining on the current transfer window.

However former Newcastle United manager (now LA Galaxy coach) Ruud Gullit isn't convinced Keegan can revive the club's fortunes. "He won't do it. It is not realistic," said the Dutchman. Gullit believes the Toon boss will struggle to make an impact in his second spell as manager, and claims "Newcastle are not a big club in the Premiership anymore".

Keegan himself admits he faces a long and difficult task to breath life back into the Magpies, and is aware of the high expectations of the Toon Army. It's been 53 years since the club last won a major domestic trophy (the FA Cup in 1955).

* Newcastle United FC: Official club website

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