The Newcastle United circus has a new ringmaster with a script that has his followers roaring their approval. Meanwhile, the rest of the country sits there laughing hysterically at the Geordie ‘messiah’ rather than chortling along with him.
Newcastle’s scattergun approach to find a replacement for the overly talented Sam Allardyce finally bore fruit when Kevin Keegan waddled back into town amidst a frenzy of eye-watering nostalgia. There was something unreal about the whole ‘second coming’ (surely that happened when the ex-player returned as manager before?) for the Geordie faithful as the man who took them closer to a trophy than any other manager in Newcastle’s recent history uttered his first words back at the helm.
Realism has never got in the way of ridiculous ambition in the north east and Keegan’s press conference just confirmed what a deluded bunch of dreamers follow the St James’ Park mob like black and white sheep. All that was missing was the announcement of a public holiday to mark St Kevin’s return. Keegan may be back, but his stand-up routine was as outdated as it ever was.
When Keegan made his pathetic and cheap jibe about southerners going to the theatre for entertainment while those wonderful north-east diehards packed into their football grounds, the cameras should have stopped rolling immediately. As sound bites go, it was one of the most shameful attempts to curry favour with the locals ever seen. Of course, the hoodwinked disciples fell about various bars unable to control their laughter at Keegan’s humour, but to the rest of us it merely confirmed what a joke the whole club has become.
Had Harry Redknapp come out and said he turned down the Newcastle role so he didn’t have to stomach the ‘thick, fickle unrealistic northern supporters’ then his effigy probably would have been burned across the city. Keegan’s quip was no less offensive and simply served as a reminder as to why the north-east fans are held in such contempt by the rest of the country. They think they are bigger, better, more loyal fans and know more than the rest of the country. They are not and do not. If they were, their constant hounding out of managers over the past 40 years might actually have won them some trophies.
For Keegan, there will come a point when substance has to replace the Neanderthal chest-beating and that, as with all previous Newcastle managers in living memory, is where he will fall down. If he was not good enough for England when he was at the peak of his powers, why should he be better now after an average stint at Manchester City and a few years out of the game. And Alan Shearer? Proven manager, I suppose. As Sven and Steve McClaren showed, if Shearer does take over he will be tarred by Keegan’s brush. Some people never learn lessons.
Last year when Fulham sacked Chris Coleman, I predicted the decision would come back to haunt them come the end of this season. That prophecy is well on the way to coming true. Newcastle may not be relegation fodder, but disposing of Allardyce and bringing in the poker-faced comedian that is Keegan will backfire in the long run. For us simple southerners, we cannot wait for the Keegan’s theatrics to turn into the Greek tragedy that it is destined to.