Newcastle will never flourish under Ashley, claims Keegan

Club's 'Messiah' hails sacked Hughton for his success in 'impossible environment'

Just about anyone who's anyone has had their say on Newcastle's latest self-inflicted turmoil this week, apart from Kevin Keegan.

Tyneside's "Messiah" put that right yesterday, and considering his acrimonious history with Mike Ashley, his conclusion as to where the root of the problem can be found was somewhat predictable.

"You'll never get stability when you have Mike Ashley and [managing director] Derek Llambias running the club," Keegan insisted as Alan Pardew prepares to take charge for the first time with this evening's Premier League visit by Liverpool.

In a no-holds barred verbal assault on the Newcastle owner, Keegan added: "Ashley has made no secret that he wants to sell Newcastle, and the best day will come when someone buys it from him and runs Newcastle like the club should be run."

Keegan's passion for the club he played for and managed on three separate occasions is seemingly undiminished in the two years since he resigned in protest at the club's transfer policy under Ashley. He added: "The club can never go anywhere under them, it can't go anywhere, I promise you that." Many would disagree with claims of inertia. It threatens to go backwards.

Keegan was Ashley's first managerial appointment at St James' Park, the populist choice to replace Sam Allardyce in January 2008. Just eight months later he was gone, amid claim and counter claim, the upshot of which saw him awarded £2m for constructive dismissal in October 2009. The £25m he had wanted for lost earnings and "stigma" damages, suggested some supporters, betrayed his true feelings towards a club which risked going into administration had the 59-year-old's claim proved wholly successful.

His experience puts him in a position to sympathise with Chris Hughton, sacked as manager earlier in a week that has also seen Newcastle turn down West Ham's £1.25m bid for midfielder Joey Barton. "I don't understand the decision to get rid of Chris," Keegan said. "I lived with these same people for eight months, I didn't understand them then and I don't understand them now. I don't think many of the fans do.

"When a man buys a club like Ashley did and he knows as little about football as he does, he's likely to make these sort of mistakes and still think he's doing OK. When you get the fans saying it's the wrong decision, when you get the players saying it's wrong and the press saying it's wrong, it tells you that the decision is the wrong one.

"The news won't have come as a total surprise to Chris, having worked with the people he had been working with for the best part of two and a bit years. He knew what he was dealing with. It's almost impossible to work in that environment, and that's why I take my hat off to him for getting on with it for as long as he did. He hung in there, and did a great job under difficult circumstances, with very little investment."

Keegan has more than a passing acquaintance with Pardew, who he expects to be given a fair hearing by supporters, who he insists should grind their axe with Ashley and Ashley alone. He added: "Alan's a good lad, I know him well. He's dedicated and he works very hard. The sad thing is he's getting off on the wrong foot through no fault of his own.

"Any criticism will be levelled at Llambias and Ashley, because it's their decision. The fans would be wrong to pick on Alan. If results don't go well then they may start to voice discontent, but Alan is just the meat in the middle of the sandwich."

The departed Hughton, who turns 52 today will be in the players' thoughts as they look to stem a five-game winless run that has seen them drop into the bottom half of the table.

"We've accepted what's happened and we're concentrating on getting a good result against Liverpool," captain Kevin Nolan said. "I speak for all the players when I say we're disappointed to see Chris leave, it's no secret that everyone was saddened to see him go. It's been a tough week but we have to put it behind us and move on." It's advice Keegan would do well to follow.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
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

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
Nightclubbing with Richard Young: The story behind his latest book of celebrity photographs

24-Hour party person

Photographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years. As his latest book is released, he reveals that it wasn’t all fun and games
Michelle Obama's school dinners: America’s children have a message for the First Lady

A taste for rebellion

US children have started an online protest against Michelle Obama’s drive for healthy school meals by posting photos of their lunches
Colouring books for adults: How the French are going crazy for Crayolas

Colouring books for adults

How the French are going crazy for Crayolas
Jack Thorne's play 'Hope': What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

Playwright Jack Thorne's latest work 'Hope' poses the question to audiences
Ed Harcourt on Romeo Beckham and life as a court composer at Burberry

Call me Ed Mozart

Paloma Faith, Lana del Ray... Romeo Beckham. Ed Harcourt has proved that he can write for them all. But it took a personal crisis to turn him from indie star to writer-for-hire
10 best stocking fillers for foodies

Festive treats: 10 best stocking fillers for foodies

From boozy milk to wasabi, give the food-lover in your life some extra-special, unusual treats to wake up to on Christmas morning
Phil Hughes head injury: He had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Phil Hughes had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Prolific opener had world at his feet until Harmison and Flintoff bounced him
'I have an age of attraction that starts as low as four': How do you deal with a paedophile who has never committed a crime?

'I am a paedophile'

Is our approach to sex offenders helping to create more victims?
How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

Serco given Yarl’s Wood immigration contract despite ‘vast failings’
Green Party on the march in Bristol: From a lost deposit to victory

From a lost deposit to victory

Green Party on the march in Bristol
Putting the grot right into Santa's grotto

Winter blunderlands

Putting the grot into grotto
'It just came to us, why not do it naked?' London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital

'It just came to us, why not do it naked?'

London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital