Kevin Keegan turned up back at Newcastle on 16 January 2008, a decision that took fans by surprise after thankfully seeing Sam Allardyce get kicked out.
The four months that followed, saw NUFC play far better football and optimism swept around the fanbase for the future.
Mike Ashley had ditched the nightmare that was Allardyce (who Freddy Shepherd had appointed just before the takeover) and replaced him with somebody who knew what the club was all about, had a great eye for a player, and had produced brilliant times in the past at St James Park as player and manager. The owner quickly grasping what needed to be done to make a success of Newcastle United…
The appointment of Kevin Keegan in mid-January, meant that three more appointments two weeks later went relatively smoothly, certainly more smoothly than if Keegan hadn’t already came in through the door.
Dennis Wise was brought in by Ashley as Director of Football, Tony Jiminez as Vice-President of player recruitment, with Jeff Vetere also part of the recruitment team – given the title of Technical Co-Ordinator.
Fans were appalled at their club employing Dennis Wise and didn’t have a clue who the other pair were, though with them arriving with Wise and having no great track record of success elsewhere, we all wondered what this was all about.
Kevin Keegan of course smoothed it all over, saying that he had been given 100% guarantees that it would be him alone having the final say on players, that Dennis Wise and Jeff Vetere & Tony Jiminez were only there to search for prospective signings for him to say yes or no to.
Fans still weren’t amused that they were paying Wise’s wages but these appointments faded largely into the background, especially with it being over five months until any signings would be made.
Of course, we later found out that they had lied through their teeth to Kevin Keegan.
A tribunal giving a scathing assessment of what had gone on with Mike Ashley and his minions, saying that the Manager had been lied to and that signings were imposed on him, in direct contravention of assurances given.
Signings of £6m Xisco and Nacho Gonzalez (on loan) took Kevin Keegan to the brink, with the sale of James Milner and subsequent refusal to go after the players the Manager wanted, leading to the Keegan walkout and subsequent successful case for constructive dismissal against Ashley and the club.
Needless to say, the recruitment team of Dennis Wise, Jeff Vetere and Tony Jiminez proving disastrous, with fans even questioning the motivation for bringing in many of the players.
It was later admitted that the Gonzalez loan was as a favour to agents, whilst £6m for Xisco was bewildering for a player who clearly was some levels below what was needed in the Premier League.
After their departure from Newcastle, Wise, Vetere and Jiminez haven’t had such senior positions, certainly at Premier League level.
However, one of them has now just been appointed to work with Harry Redknapp.
Jeff Vetere has been appointed Director of Football at Birmingham City, a move surely sanctioned by Harry Redknapp when agreeing to take the job.
Vetere has had scouting roles at Villa and Fulham after leaving Newcastle but no senior role on this scale.
Considering the damage that was done to Newcastle United in that disastrous period in 2008, it is hard to wish anything but bad luck on those responsible.
It will be interesting to see if Xisco gets a call…
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