Keegan: I’ll turn tide on the Tyne

Last updated at 20:22 29 February 2008

Kevin Keegan

promised to steer

Newcastle out of trouble,

as Damien Duff

took a swipe at the

previous regime for leaving

the club in their current


Keegan says he will shrug off the

criticism and cynicism engulfing

Newcastle to guide them to safety

in the Barclays Premier League.

They have yet to win in

Keegan's first six matches and

today he comes face to face with

Mark Hughes, the Blackburn

manager touted for the St James'

Park vacancy when Sam Allardyce

was sacked.

Instead, owner Mike Ashley

plumped for a fairy tale return of

Newcastle's Messiah, but so far the

reign is proving to be a nightmare.

And Newcastle's slide down the

table has alarmed the players, who

have failed to win in 10 games.

Keegan admitted confidence is at

a low ebb, but is convinced he can

still see off the threat of relegation.

He said: 'It is a work in progress.

It does not always happen straightaway

but takes a few weeks, a few


'We need to win a football match

to stop everyone saying: “You haven't won a match since I came

here”. That's fair comment because

we haven't. The stick doesn't

bother me but it does bother me

that we haven't won a match.

'I wouldn't say I have galvanised

the club but we have come in and

changed a few things and I think

we will get our rewards for those

changes. We are more or less firefighting

at the moment as opposed

to developing.

'We are trying to put something

right and then move to stage two.

Sometimes there is no quick fix. We

have to take the cynicism on the

chin. We have our destiny in our


'I'm a little bit older, a bit wiser,

but I'm the same person. I think I

have the same enthusiasm,

although I'm maybe not shouting

from the rooftops like I did last

time because this is not the time to

do that. We are in stage one of a


'I'm really enjoying it at a club I

love and I enjoy working with the

players. When we start to get one

or two results, I will enjoy it more.

'The support of the players at a

club is vital. You can't have it any

other way. If the players do not

have confidence in the manager, or

the other way round, it is a recipe

for disaster. I do not think either is

the case here. Change takes time,

that is the reality.'

As Newcastle prepare to face his former club Blackburn, Duff

delivered a damning indictment on

the state of the Newcastle squad

under Allardyce, claiming they are

now fitter after Keegan's month in


Allardyce spent thousands hiring

staff specialised in improving the

players' fitness but Duff rubbished

the previous regime.

The Republic of Ireland winger

said: 'We've been working hard and

as the gaffer said in the meeting

this morning, training has been

getting better every week. I don't

think we were the fittest before he

came here. I know Big Sam used to

say we were the fittest around, but

I think we were far from it. It's

going to take a while for the gaffer

to put his stamp on things.

'I think one of his quotes was that

the work you put in on the training

pitch comes out on a Saturday.

That's what we've been doing since

he came in. It's been hard work

and I think that's what we needed.

'There's definitely a buzz around

and rightly so; he's a legend here.

He's the most positive person I've

ever met. He's done great work, but

we need to start taking it out on to

the pitch results-wise. It's great working with him and I'm loving

every minute of it — I'm just desperate

to get that first win for him.'

Keegan added: 'In the first two or

three weeks, some of the players

thought the training was quite hard

and I felt we were training them

quite lightly. If Damien thinks the

training is harder, wait until preseason!

We haven't started yet.'

Newcastle have taken Senegal

captain Lamine Diatta on a fourday

trial after the central defender

bought out his contract with Besiktas.

A decision on the 32-year-old's

future will be made next week.

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