Friday, March 11, 2005

King Kev abdicates again

Like many people I woke up this morning to discover that Kevin Keegan had parted company with Man City.

I'm sure I'm not alone amongst Newcastle fans in still having a real soft spot for the man who took us to promotion to the top flight as both a player and a manager, and so nearly landed us the biggest domestic prize of all, the league title, in 1995-6 - which is why I still feel defensive of someone who has managed three different teams since leaving St James's Park in January 1997.

The received wisdom is that he's a great man-motivator with a tremendous enthusiasm for the game, but lacks the ability to withstand the psychological pressure piled upon him by more wily and astute opposition managers - the infamous anti-Ferguson "I'd love it" rant most often being cited as evidence. Ultimately, yes, that proved a bit of a turning point in the title race, but at the time the vast majority of Geordies were I think thrilled to see that level of passion from the club's figurehead. Not embarrassing, just unflinchingly honest heart-on-sleeve stuff - exactly what every fan wants to see from the people whose wages they pay.

Keegan is often accused of tactical naivety, and that was probably the case when he was on Tyneside, but several of Man City's performances this season - most notably Chelsea and Man Utd away - have suggested he's learnt valuable lessons and now has the nous to compete with those managers acclaimed as tactical geniuses, even with very limited resources.

As for being a serial quitter, that's I guess what the history books show - but isn't it better to know the limits of your own ability and do the honourable thing rather than egotistically and stubbornly cling on to a position without any regard as to the damage that might be caused as a result?


A sympathetic review of Keegan's managerial career from the BBC's Phil McNulty.


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