Keegan pushed to brink as Newcastle deny 'sack' story

Newcastle United said last night that that they wish to retain Kevin Keegan as manager of the Tyneside club, but after a long, uncertain day at St James' Park it appears Keegan's second tenure is over. The perception is that Keegan has been forced out and this is now expected to descend into an argument about employment law, semantics and compensation of as much as £8million.

There was no official confirmation of Keegan's departure but it was accepted last night that when Keegan drove off from his Ponteland home yesterday morning it was to stop off at St James' to verify his departure just over seven months into his second spell as manager. It was said that having pushed Keegan to the brink of resignation, Newcastle then realised the consequences within their fanbase – which is hugely supportive of Keegan – and spent the hours after that trying to talk Keegan around. Hence the confusion.

Keegan feels compromised by the position of Dennis Wise above him in recruiting players and, having asked to be judged at "midnight on Monday" over the controversial sale of James Milner to Aston Villa last Friday, Keegan saw the transfer deadline pass with only two signings come in, both from Spain and one of them on loan. He did not get the new left-back he asked for in May.

Keegan is understood to have vented his anger at managing director Derek Llambias over transfers on Sunday and Monday, with owner Mike Ashley possibly intervening to try to dissuade him from walking out. It is not thought conciliation worked and the Newcastle's statement's reference to the club "progressing with its long-term strategy" suggests that Wise will not be moved on.

"Newcastle United can confirm that meetings between members of the Board and manager Kevin Keegan were held both yesterday and today," began Newcastle's statement. "Kevin has raised a number of issues and those have been discussed with him. The club wants to keep progressing with its long-term strategy and would like to stress that Kevin is extremely important, both now and in the future. Newcastle United values the effort and commitment shown by Kevin since his return to St James' Park and wants him to continue to play an instrumental role as manager of the club. For the avoidance of doubt the club has not sacked Kevin Keegan as manager."

It is not known if that last sentence was a reference to Keegan resigning, which would have implications for any pay-off. Keegan signed a three-and-a-half year contract when he succeeded Sam Allardyce in January and would be entitled to compensation if dismissed. The words and phrase used could be worth millions of pounds.

One version of events is that Keegan was told of Newcastle's signings on Monday and of future transfer policy and replied that, if that was the case, it would be happening without him. That may have been taken as a resignation, an interpretation Keegan's and Newcastle's lawyers will scrutinise.

The situation left Newcastle players and fans dismayed. More than one senior Newcastle player privately described the anticipated loss of Keegan as "a shambles", while supporters are considering boycotting the next home game, against Hull City on Saturday week. At the bookmakers there was a rush of money for Gustavo Poyet as a possible successor. Poyet was once the team-mate of Wise at Chelsea and his assistant when Wise was manager of Swindon Town and Leeds. Poyet is currently Juande Ramos's assistant at Tottenham.

The speculation surrounding Keegan began with his failure to take training yesterday morning, when Chris Hughton stood in. But Keegan's absence was also noted at St James' on Monday night when he missed Newcastle reserves' game against Sunderland. Normally Keegan sits alongside Terry McDermott but it was Hughton there.

Keegan's absence was said to have resulted from a confrontation with Llambias over transfer policy. Last Tuesday Keegan had called the possibility of selling Milner "unthinkable". Three days later, doing the club's PR for them, he asked for time, hoping that Newcastle would be able to recruit "three or four" new players over the weekend.

One of these, Keegan hoped, would be the Germany international Bastian Schweinsteiger. The failure to complete that transaction cannot have pleased Keegan, who meanwhile discovered that Newcastle were prepared to sell Joey Barton and Michael Owen. Keegan has risked his reputation in backing Barton following his release from prison this summer. On Owen, Keegan has been firmly behind the England striker since April, when the issue of a contract extension was first raised.

As Monday's deadline came and went, Newcastle brought in only two players, one of whom, Ignacio Gonzalez, is on loan from Valencia. Xisco, from Deportivo La Coruña, is a striker who has cost an initial £5.7m.

But as Keegan may have pointed out, Newcastle already have a number of options up front. The fact that he is unlikely to have seen either Xisco or Gonzalez in the flesh is another consideration, a reminder to the manager that he has not been, and will not be, in complete control of who plays for his team.

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Sport
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Fans hold up a scarf at West Ham vs Liverpool
footballAfter Arsenal's clear victory, focus turns to West Ham vs Liverpool
New Articles
i100... she's just started school
News
news
New Articles
i100
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
New Articles
i100... despite rising prices
Voices
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
voices
Caption competition
Caption competition
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

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam