Tyneside celebrates as Keegan leaves his circus for Newcastle

Brilliant madness. If two words can attempt to convey the sheer avalanche of conflicting emotions that swept Tyneside yesterday, then these will have to suffice. At 4.12pm, those supporters who subscribe to the Newcastle United text alert service were sent a message from the club that read: "Kevin Keegan is returning to Newcastle United as manager, more to follow." Five minutes later anyone trying to use their mobile phone to pass that on found "network busy". Keegan is back. They were agog on the Tyne.

"More to follow" has to be one of the biggest understatements in football. Elsewhere, up and down the land and particularly at Fulham, Manchester City and in Soho Square, heads will have been scratched and scepticism immediately stated; but here, where the queues for the FA Cup tie against Stoke City started lengthening around five o'clock, it makes illogical sense. By 6.30 the demand was so great that the kick-off was put back 15 minutes.

St James' Park had been expected to hold around 27,000 last night and by kick-off it was nearing its 52,000 capacity. Those are some 25,000 reasons why Keegan returning to Newcastle for a third time is justifiable. If football is about emotion, passion and human relationships, then Keegan – who left his Soccer Circus coaching school in Glasgow to return to Tyneside – and Newcastle are made for each other. If football is about tactics, then Sam Allardyce, Keegan's predecessor, was at the wrong club.

Keegan's captain during the gloriously entertaining mid-Nineties, Robert Lee, encapsulated that special relationship last night when he said: "You do have to know the area, the people and Kevin knew that. He belongs."

One week on from Allardyce's surprise dismissal, this was a shock. Keegan had featured prominently in the betting and came top of a poll in the Newcastle Evening Chronicle, with 42 per cent. Yet because of the hush that had descended on St James', because of the Harry Redknapp dalliance and the noise that was emanating from Blackburn about Mark Hughes, and from France about Didier Deschamps and Gérard Houllier, there was little sense of momentum about Keegan. Suddenly people were guessing about a backroom staff that is likely to include Terry McDermott and possibly Peter Beardsley. But there was nothing official early last night.

The club had repeatedly stated that they were searching for "experience" but if there was to be a sentimental element to Newcastle's decision-making, then Alan Shearer seemed a more plausible candidate simply because he so obviously wanted the post.

But the "lift-off" that Newcastle's new owner, Mike Ashley, wants was being planned without Shearer, whom Keegan bought for £15m in 1996. That was a world-record transfer fee then and was striking evidence of just how far Keegan had taken the club in just over four years. Newcastle were second from bottom of what is now the Championship when Keegan took over from Ossie Ardiles in February 1992. Keegan was 41 then, he is 56 now and has been out of management since leaving Manchester City in 2005. He had already had one stint as a player.

This is his third coming.

All three are gasp-out-loud moments. "It's brilliant, I'm just so excited, the hairs on the back of my neck stood on end when I heard. Unbelievable, brilliant." Those were the words from Shay Given after he was woken from his pre-match nap yesterday afternoon. "I'm sure the fans think the same. Knowing what he has done in the past here, it's a real coup for the club.

"It will lift the gloom that's been around the place, just what we needed, players and fans.

"Kevin Keegan knows what it means to be here, he loves the club and I don't think an other manager could have lifted the place the same way. And he's Mike Ashley's appointment, he's Mike Ashley's man."

That is crucial. Allardyce was not Ashley's appointment, and his methodology was not in Newcastle's tradition.

Keegan's variety is of the sort Ashley spoke of at the weekend when he said he wanted to build a team who are capable of taking on Manchester United and "walloping" Chelsea. For that the billionaire will have to provide funds.

Keegan is good at spending and his record in the market is better than many say.

"His signings at Newcastle were fantastic," Lee said. "He very rarely wasted money. It will still take him a little while to make this his team, but he will get there. And he will motivate the players already there. No matter whether he is talking to the Queen or a two-year-old boy, Kevin Keegan has it. He has charisma, an aura."

That will be required in one specific area and it is called Michael Owen. Owen did not enjoy his time under Keegan when he was manager of England and was frequently substituted. But Owen is the only man Newcastle have paid more for than Shearer. He is an asset, even if injury has dramatically curtailed his impact.

"He seemed the complete package," Owen wrote of Keegan in his autobiography. "But if it was for some players, it wasn't for me... I assume the manager had conveyed to his staff what he thought of me and plainly it wasn't complimentary. I felt I was being singled out...

"Looking back on the Keegan era, one main feature stands out for me. It made me question my footballing ability for the first time in my life. And, yes, it scarred me. I used to go into games believing that the opposition was scared of me and that nothing could get in my way. That feeling, that belief, evaporated at times when I played under Keegan. Certainly, it was a dark phase in my career. It made me more sensitive and self-protective."

That is a big hurdle for two men who love horses to overcome. It will be Keegan's first test back at St James'.

Once the hullabaloo dies down. If the hullabaloo dies down.

'I just see football for what it is... all about money'

In an interview with Brian Viner in The Independent last March, Kevin Keegan talked about his feelings about modern football and about managing again:

[Would he manage again?] "I don't think so. I never saw myself managing in the first place. I never applied for a job..."

"I just see football for what it is, which is all about money. I find it incredible that a doctor can train for eight years to earn in a year what a footballer earns in a week. And the more they earn, they more remote they get..."

"Only two Premiership teams, Manchester United and Chelsea, can win the title next year, let alone this year. I took Newcastle up and we played our way to third, second, second. That will never happen again in your lifetime..."

Voices
The Sumatran tiger, endemic to the Indonesian island of Sumatra, is an endangered species
voicesJonathon Porritt: The wild tiger population is thought to have dropped by 97 per cent since 1900
Arts and Entertainment
Beast would strip to his underpants and take to the stage with a slogan scrawled on his bare chest whilst fans shouted “you fat bastard” at him
musicIndie music promoter was was a feature at Carter gigs
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Story line: Susanoo slays the Yamata no Orochi serpent in the Japanese version of a myth dating back 40,000 years
arts + entsApplying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Performers dressed as Tunnocks chocolate teacakes, a renowned Scottish confectionary, perform during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park in Glasgow on July 23, 2014.
news
Life and Style
Popular plonk: Lambrusco is selling strong
Food + drinkNaff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
News
Shake down: Michelle and Barack Obama bump knuckles before an election night rally in Minnesota in 2008, the 'Washington Post' called it 'the fist bump heard round the world'
newsThe pound, a.k.a. the dap, greatly improves hygiene
Arts and Entertainment
La Roux
music
Arts and Entertainment
Graham Fellows as John Shuttleworth
comedySean O'Grady joins Graham Fellows down his local Spar
News
people
News
Ross Burden pictured in 2002
people
News
Elisabeth Murdoch: The 44-year-old said she felt a responsibility to 'stand up and be counted’'
media... says Rupert Murdoch
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Extras
indybest
Sport
Arsenal signing Calum Chambers
sportGunners complete £16m transfer of Southampton youngster
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

The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on