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January 2008 Review: When Keegan led Newcastle and Tottenham beat Arsenal



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With Arsenal, Manchester United and Chelsea squaring off for the Premier League title race, the press were hailing the 2007/2008 as the most exciting, most unpredictable season of football they’d ever seen.

Chelsea had to contend with a new manager whom everyone blamed for their failings, Arsenal were cruising, seemingly recovered from their post-Invincibles hangover and the most notable thing about Manchester United’s form was the absolute lack of impact on it from their infamous Christmas party, not to mention the form of golden boy Ronaldo with Real Madrid knocking on the door hat in hand for the winger striker.

In January you would expect transfer gossip to dominate but transfers and football on the pitch took a step aside as Newcastle fired Sam Allardyce and Mike Ashley brought in Kevin Keegan as manager. It was heralded as the best move Ashley had ever made, with Keegan tipped to lead Newcastle charging back up the league table, a bit similar to the hype around Big Sam’s appointment, not that Newcastle fans remembered. Later that month, a sign of things to come with Dennis Wise brought on to ‘help’ Keegan at Newcastle. I wonder how that went…

The Premier League felt the impact of the 2008 African Nations Cup with several clubs missing key players during January. There was talk of moving the ACN to the summer (to bring it more in line with ‘international’ football or rather, European club football) but despite this ‘inconvenience’, the two teams who claimed to be most affected (Chelsea and Portsmouth) would actually go on to improve on their performances from last season (Chelsea – Champions League final, last day of the title race, Portsmouth – FA Cup).

Outside the Premier League there was great hype surrounding MyFootballClub and their impending takeover of Ebbsfleet United. Yours truly owns a single share in Ebbsfleet United and after an year of owning a (piece of a) football club I can honestly say I prefer Football Manager to false loyalties. Then again, the sales pitch for MyFC was eerily familiar to a real-life version of Football Manager…

In Europe Platini was successful in getting the G14 to ‘disband’ and the landmark Webster ruling meant everyone had a new ‘rule’ to learn so they could speculate endlessly on which footballer could use it to engineer a move away from their current slavers employers (we’re not there yet).

And finally, while Keegan at Newcastle and African Cup of Nations took center-stage in England, the final spotlight shone strongly on a Ramos-led Tottenham Hotspur with the manager roundly praised by media and players for his ‘innovative’ training methods, tactical nous and his ability to get the most out of his players, with this belief seemingly vindicated in Tottenham’s Carling Cup semifinal win over Arsenal.

Back to Soccerlens’ 2008 Review.