Newcastle are in turmoil, and it’s Keegan who is suffering


Bad signs: Kevin Keegan

Les Ferdinand fears for the future of Newcastle because he believes Kevin Keegan has not been given the backing he was promised when he returned to St James' Park last season.

The 41-year-old former England striker, one of the stars of Keegan's Newcastle team who twice challenged for the Premier League title in the Nineties, was hoping billionaire owner Mike Ashley would reinvigorate the club over the summer after yet another season of disappointment.

But, so far, the new hierarchy of executive director (football) Dennis Wise, vice-president (player recruitment) Tony Jimenez and Jeff Vetere, technical co-ordinator, have managed to bring in only Jonas Gutierrez and Danny Guthrie.

Keegan, along with one of his senior players Shay Given, has been forced to appeal for more players to be brought into one of the Premier League's smallest squads - and yesterday's 1-0 defeat at Championship newcomers Doncaster by an injury-ravaged team will only reinforce that request.

Ferdinand, who scored 50 goals in only 84 Newcastle appearances, is dismayed at the lack of progress and has seen the effect on Keegan after his emotional and much-heralded return in January.

'He is a different Kevin Keegan to the one who signed me,' said Ferdinand.

'He was a bit more effervescent back in those days. This time around I think he's come to a club in turmoil.

'There was turmoil the first time when the club were in danger of falling into the third tier of English football, but he was able to revolutionise everything and turn it all around.

'When he came back, the expectations were so high that the Messiah had returned, and from day one everything was going to be all right. But, to be realistic, it was always going to take time.

'What we were expecting this summer was that, because Mike Ashley had wanted a new manager and got rid of Sam Allardyce quickly, they were pushing in the right direction and were going to invest and give Keegan the money to see what would happen. It doesn't look like that has happened.'

Ferdinand witnessed the effect on Keegan of his eight-match winless worries me a little. I fear for Newcastle because they need continuity and I think everyone needs to gel together.

You're just not seeing that at the moment. There seems to be one person on one track and one on another pulling against each other. It's never going to work if that's the case.

'It's clear to me that what was sold to Keegan has not been delivered. He said when he joined he had the same ideas as the chairman of where he wanted to take the club.'

Ferdinand said that despite the constant rumours around the club, involving owner Ashley selling up and the possibility of Keegan quitting if things do not go his way, he does not expect the ex-England manager to walk out.

'Kevin's done it so many times - walked away from different jobs - that people will always ask whether he will revert to that,' said Ferdinand. 'I personally don't think Keegan will walk away from this. If he did, that would be it. We'd never see him in football management again.

start. 'I was there on the day of his first match back,' said the former QPR and Spurs goalscorer at the launch of the New Football Pools, for whom he is a pundit. 'It was a 5.30pm start and he was in there two-and-a-half hours before the game. Kevin, Terry McDermott and myself were reminiscing about the old times and he was bubbly and bright. Everything was like the Keegan of old.

'But over a period of weeks I slowly saw that drain out of him. He got a bit of impetus back with that first win and then, over the summer, you thought that things were going to happen. But then you start hearing rumours that he's not going to be able to buy the players he wants. He definitely needs to spend. But one of the problems he faces is that when I signed for him he was a big attraction for me to join Newcastle. Do players nowadays remember Kevin Keegan? Is he such a pull as he used to be as a manager?

'He's gone out to get some targets and he's not been able to get them. That 'The previous board backed him. They didn't sack him, he walked away. Ever since, it's mostly been a succession of managers who have gone in for a year or two and then they've got rid of them.

'Newcastle need to give someone the time and opportunity to do the job and perhaps they can be successful in the end. It's pretty clear that they are not going to challenge for the top four in the new season. It's going to take four or five years for that to happen and Keegan may not even be there.'

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