There is no question that they have chosen a winner. Dalglish's managerial achievements at Liverpool and Blackburn Rovers stand comparison with the best the British game has produced. Yet he walked away each time, precipitating turmoil at both clubs. He left Anfield because, he said, "I thought my head would explode." He stepped back from management at Ewood Park after telling the chairman, Robert Coar, "I don't want the team responsibility or heavy day-to-day involvement."
Given that the burden of Geordie expectation broke Keegan there must be a strong chance that, in two or three years' time, Newcastle will be searching for a manager again. They may even find themselves in the same confusion as this week.
Of course, they may have that long-awaited championship in the trophy room by then. But then what? This decision goes against the whole philosophy of Sir John Hall's chairmanship. Appointing Bobby Robson, a Geordie, to manage while Peter Beardsley, another Geordie, was being tutored, was more in keeping with his dream of building a European superpower with regional roots.
Sir John, it appears, did want Robson, but Robson is not a breaker of contracts. While he has been pondering his position at Barcelona, Douglas Hall, Sir John's son, who is about to take over the day-to-day running of the club, has acted. It would appear that this week has marked not just the end of the Keegan years, but the Sir John Hall years too. In a way it is fitting for both were similar men, who found it hard to rein in their passion for the Magpie cause.
Douglas Hall and Dalglish could form an equally successful - if different - pair. They must have an initial understanding, because Dalglish places great store by the nature of the people he works with.
Dalglish was the initial favourite but, for a few days, people close to him thought he would prefer to stay with his family in Southport. Instead, it seems, he feels refreshed and attracted by the challenge of taking Newcastle that extra step. He may even feel ready for a long commitment. At 45, the same age as Keegan, Dalglish is less than a year older than Alex Ferguson was when he arrived at Old Trafford a decade ago.
Yet Dalglish, although deeply in love with football, has never seemed quite as absorbed in the business of football management. This is not to denigrate his commitment while in a job. Nor should the earlier references to precipitating turmoil at Anfield and Ewood suggest he is the footballing equivalent of an asset-stripper.
At Liverpool, he brought in Steve Heighway to run a youth system which has since produced the England internationals Robbie Fowler and Steve McManaman. He also signed Jamie Redknapp at 17. At Blackburn, he helped build a flourishing youth scheme and spent much of his final year encouraging its members at close quarters.
Newcastle's own youth system is developing but most of the plans are still just plans. The progress of the young players in their squad has not been helped by the disbandment of the reserve team.
Restoring "the stiffs" may be high in Dalglish's agenda but first he has a ticklish problem to solve. Peter Beardsley was most supporters' choice to take over as manager; he is as revered on Tyneside as Keegan. He also had some unhappy times at Liverpool as player under Dalglish. Will Dalglish play him? How will Beardsley, and the supporters, react if he does not?
Both questions may be influenced by the type of football Dalglish's Newcastle play. One of his early Liverpool sides, the one of Beardsley, John Barnes and John Aldridge, was a delight to watch. Many observers regard it as the most attractive of all the successful Liverpool teams.
Blackburn, by contrast, were often grim. They scored plenty of goals but they lacked style. It looked hard work playing for Blackburn; it was often hard work watching them.
Initially, the Toon Army will tolerate that as long as the team are winning. If they are in contention for the title they will stand for any number of 1-0 victories. In the long term they will be demanding style as well.
The big question, however, the one which will be exercising minds in the City as well as at United, is how long-term is Dalglish's commitment?
1951 Born Dalmarnock, Glasgow, on 4 March.
1966 Played for Scotland schoolboys.
1967 Joined Celtic on provisional contract.
1968 Turned professional; loaned by Celtic to Cumbernauld United.
1969 First-team debut for Celtic - playing record with Celtic: Games 324, goals 167.
1971 Won first Scotland cap.
1977 Transferred to Liverpool for pounds 400,000. Playing record with Liverpool: games 515, goals 173.
1979 Footballer of Year.
1983 Footballer of Year and Players' Player of Year.
1985 Appointed manager of Liverpool.
1991 Announced shock resignation in February; appointed Blackburn manager in October.
1992 Broke British transfer record in July by paying pounds 3.3m to Southampton for Alan Shearer.
1994 Broke transfer record for second time, paying pounds 5m to Norwich for Chris Sutton in July.
1995 Steered Blackburn to first championship for 81 years. Becomes Blackburn's director of football, with assistant Ray Harford taking over as manager.
1996 Leaves Blackburn by mutual consent. In December appointed business development manager for Carnegie Sports International, a company owned by the Rangers chairman, David Murray.
1997 Succeeds Kevin Keegan as manager of Newcastle, giving him the opportunity of becoming the first domestic manager in history to win the championship with three different clubs.
1972 League champions, Cup winners
1973 League champions
1974 League champions, Cup winners
1975 Cup winners, League Cup winners
1977 League champions, Cup winners
1978 European Cup winners
1979 League champions
1980 League champions
1981 European Cup winners, League Cup winners
1982 League champions, League Cup winners
1983 League champions, League Cup winners
1984 League champions, European Cup winners, League Cup winners
1986 (as player-manager): League champions, FA Cup winners
1988 (as manager): League champions
1989 FA Cup winners
1990 League champions
1992 Won promotion to top flight
1994 Premiership runners-up
1995 Premiership champions
Scotland: games 102 (national record), goals 30 (national record, shared with Denis Law)Reuse content