So Kevin Keegan is to return to St. James Park. A homecoming. Back to unite the Geordie Nation. To reconnect Newcastle United to the champagne football he had them playing in 1996.
It makes perfect sense. Keegan was one of the few men available who understands the code that can liberate Newcastle United. No wonder they are milling in their thousands around St. James Park tonight.
Yes – it makes perfect sense. And yet it is a huge gamble. Keegan bowed out of football management after losing his way at Manchester City in 2005. Disillusioned. You can’t imagine any other semi-retired manager, being invited back to manage at the highest level.
The problem Keegan faces is that expectations will now be enormous. Everyone will presume that it will be 1996 revisited. Attacking football. Dare To Lose To Win. Newcastle – everyones favourite second team.
But it may not be like that. In 1996 everything came together. Keegan was at his emotional peak as a manager. Expectations were much lower at Newcastle. Conditions were right for their champagne football to flourish. The right man, in the right place, at the right time.
Newcastle United were right to go for the emotional option. It’s the currency that excites the Geordie Nation. And owner Mike Ashley wanted some feeling for his investment. But perhaps they should have turned to Alan Shearer. Fresh to management. New ideas. Respected by the players. No history to be judged by. A feel for the Geordie psyche. Ready for the challenge.
Then a new, fresh chapter in the history of Newcastle United could be told. Rather than the attempted re-writing of an old classic.