columnist Rob Facey looks at the confusion surrounding Kevin
Keegan's future at Newcastle and wonders why the club always seem to be in a
state of terminal controversy.
Newcastle fans often complain that the press pick on their
side, but the fact they now bear a greater resemblance to a comedy club to a
football one helps explain a lot.
The club were close to relegation last season and yet Mike
Ashley still seems to have a limited grasp on reality, let alone the
seriousness of running a football club, although fans will undoubtedly be happy
to see he can drink like the best of them. What a guy, eh…
The current confusion regarding Kevin Keegan's future is
just the latest drama to embroil the club who lurch from saga to saga at such
an alarming rate that they deserve some sort of award, if only for their consistent
ability to confuse and shock the rest of the Premier League.
Depending on whether you watched the BBC or Sky Sports News,
Keegan had either been sacked or resigned by lunchtime; the details remained
sketchy but the fact was that he had left the club.
However, with usual professionalism, the club waited until
7pm before releasing a statement ‘clarifying' the situation.
"Kevin has raised a
number of issues and these have been discussed with him," read a Newcastle statement released last night, as reported in The Guardian.
"The club wants
to keep progressing with its long-term strategy and would like to stress that
Kevin is extremely important now and in the future. Newcastle United value the
effort and commitment Kevin has shown since his return to St James' Park and
want him to continue to play an instrumental role as manager of the club.
avoidance of doubt the club has not sacked Kevin Keegan as manager."
For now at least.
People were keen to put the boot into Keegan from day one,
claiming that the game has moved on since he last managed and that he was too
emotional and fragile to cope with one of the most pressured jobs in the
And yet, despite an average second stint in charge of the
club, nobody would argue with his decision to walk out. The idea that he has
been sacked may seem harsh, particularly if the factors that seem to be the
cause of the argument on Monday (the future of Joey Barton and Wise's incompetence
in the market) that started the whole thing off are to be believed.
Dennis Wise and Mike Ashley are undoubtedly the club's
trouble makers. James Milner was sold reluctantly and Wise failed to bring
Keegan the players he asked for with the money from the England Under 21
The influence Wise has over the club's transfers is bizarre
and the belief of Mike Ashley that replacing the manager just a few weeks into
the season could in any way help the team is equally ludicrous.
The problem is that if Keegan stays, and quite frankly, who
has any idea what is going to happen, he will forever be this close to the brink. Dennis Wise's role will have to be
re-assessed, but it seems that he and Ashley are the immovable objects at St
James' Park these days; the manager is simply hired on a basis that after a few
months he will be shown the exit. You just feel sorry for Keegan that shame Abu Dhabi chose Man City as the club to
invest in, at least that way he may have got one of the players he was asking
What on Earth is happening to Newcastle? Is it below-par
performances on the pitch, fans with unrealistic expectations of what the club
can achieve or a bizarre backroom set up that sees Dennis Wise effectively
running the club, doing everything bar picking the starting XI? Keegan surely
can not stay after being undermined like this? Should Dennis Wise's position be
scrapped? If King Kev does leave, should Mike Ashley follow suit? And who would
be brave enough to take such a job?