Fans back Keegan but Shepherd has doubts

On the day both the caretaker manager, Glenn Roeder, and long-term heir apparent, Alan Shearer, confirmed they had no immediate desire to take control of first-team affairs full-time, no obvious queue of possible successors to Graeme Souness had formed.

However, in the pubs, clubs, offices and betting shops of Newcastle, one name, above all others, emerged as the popular choice to revive this sleeping giant of English football for a third time. Available, local and possessing a cute sense of public relations savvy, Kevin Keegan's name is never too far away when it comes to assessing the future, past and present of the Magpies. No wonder, therefore, that his odds to become the next manager of the club were slashed from 33-1 to 12-1 overnight.

Time is a great healer and the Toon Army would be prepared to forgive Keegan his ignominious exit in January 1997 for the opportunity to relive the days when Newcastle's "entertainers" were every opposition fan's favourite second team. Two of Keegan's former players, John Beresford and Robert Lee, wasted no time in mentioning their one-time mentor's name when quizzed on the best man to replace Souness, but Shepherd remains sceptical.

United's chairman cannot afford to make another mistake following the hasty dismissal of Sir Bobby Robson and the disastrous appointment of Souness. For now, it seems, Keegan remains the romantic, rather than the realistic, choice.

"I don't know what type of person I want to come," said Shearer, who signed for Keegan in a £15m transfer from Blackburn Rovers in the summer of 1996. "I'm not thinking about it and we've just got to see how we get on. I'm not sure if there will be an appointment in two days, weeks or months. But I'm not ready for it. I don't have the experience.

"I've had a title of player-coach since signing the extension to my contract. Glenn, I'm sure, will want to bounce ideas off me as much or as little as he likes. The best way to assist him is with performances that will put us up the table.

"Glenn will do the majority of it and he's not coming in without experience. He's got the respect of the boys and spoke to us on Thursday to make it clear what he expects. He's honest and open and can sleep at night because of that."

Roeder, the antithesis of Keegan, is a quiet and considered coach completely in control of his emotions. While recognising the raw passion and wild expectation which underpins Newcastle's very existence, the former Newcastle centre-half and current Academy director boasts a canny knack of keeping his personal and professional life firmly in perspective.

After recovering from a brain tumour, diagnosed during his spell as West Ham United's manager, Roeder has no desire to thrust himself back into the Premiership limelight long-term and would prefer to groom the next generation of St James' Park favourites. The immediate future, however, excites him. "I didn't need any persuading to take the role, the void had to be filled," explained Roeder. "It's a disappointment when managers lose their jobs and Graeme's been good to me.

"But the only constant in football is change and the wheel turned again. The chairman needed a caretaker and I was the obvious choice. I've been here before, in terms of working with top players, and I'm confident in my ability.

"When caretakers are asked if they want the job they answer 'no' when they mean 'yes'. But I don't want to manage Newcastle full-time and that's the truth.

"After my health scare it was a family decision to pursue putting something back into the game by unearthing young talent. Nothing has changed in that respect." Roeder was still celebrating guiding Newcastle's juniors into the quarter-finals of this season's FA Youth Cup when he was approached to oversee first-team affairs. Now he must leave the club's youngsters in the capable hands of Peter Beardsley and Kenny Wharton and focus fully on overcoming fellow strugglers Portsmouth at St James' Park this afternoon.

As a capacity crowd nervously anticipates the dawning of yet another new era today, Roeder expects the race to succeed Souness will quickly gather pace.

"For somebody, there's a chance of being the first United manager to win the FA Cup and FA Youth Cup in the same season," he said. "For that young motivated manager, with a track record, this is a great opportunity. If you've got something about you, this is a job to die for."

News
The two faces revealed by the ultraviolet light
newsScholars left shaken after shining ultraviolet light on 500-year-old Welsh manuscript
News
Rosamund Pike played Bond girld Miranda Frost, who died in Die Another Day (PA)
news
Arts and Entertainment
books
News
newsHow do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? With people like this
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
11 best bedside tables

11 best bedside tables

It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

Italy vs England player ratings

Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

An underdog's tale of making the most of it

Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat