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How Kevin Keegan has created a monster at Newcastle United

5 years ago

The Kevin Keegan mantra was that Newcastle fans had worked all week and wanted to be entertained at the weekend.

Keegan made it his duty to have the team playing in an exciting way that represented value for money to the normal working class punter. For this I love Kevin Keegan, as he is a one-off, his romantic vision, as wonderful as it was, has created a monster!

Have Newcastle fans always demanded an exciting style of football? I would like to get the view of supporters who have gone to the match pre-Keegan. From what I gather it has never been a prerequisite for the manager to set up the team to play in a certain way.

I can’t imagine Joe Harvey walking around the Benwell training ground enthusing about one touch football, encouraging Cruyff turns and rainbow flicks (had to ask my nephew about that one). Jackie Milburn just wanted to see the ball in back of the bloody net!

From speaking to my elders (hope they don’t mind me calling them that) it seems there have been times where we’ve tried to play decent stuff and there have been exciting individuals at the Club over the years but they never hit the heights of Keegan’s team of the mid 90’s.

It might seem I keep harking on about Kevin Keegan but his time as NUFC manager the first time round, created a yardstick of just what this Club is capable of if ran in the right way. First and foremost as a football club, business second.

The way Kevin Keegan had us playing it was almost like you were paying your money to see a show and that was his philosophy and it was a wonderful time to be a NUFC supporter. I was in my early teens when we challenged for the league title in 1995/96, I thought that this is just how it was going to be from then on. Keegan didn’t win any trophies – he certainly left a hell of a legacy.

The years that followed Keegan’s departure up until Sir Bobby’s appointment was, shall we say, an education for me. If those years were the GCS’s then the Souness and Allardyce eras were the A- Levels and Ashley’s tenure so far, a Degree in NUFC.

Like all other managers that have gone before, Rafa is a completely different manager from Kevin Keegan, like I say Keegan is a one-off. That doesn’t mean I think no one is capable of making a similar impact on the Club in terms of changing the mentality and dragging it up to where it belongs. I think if allowed to do so, Rafa could. Keegan dared us to dream, when Rafa speaks I get the same feeling and like Keegan did first time round, he is also aiming for the top, just going about in a different way.

You can’t tell people how to support the team, everyone has their own point of view, but I do find it difficult to understand where people are coming from at times. When we lose a game is your immediate thought how much you’ve spent on the ticket? Unless we’ve won has the day been a waste?

As much as Sky Sports might tell you, football on the whole isn’t always entertaining in the sense you have two teams top of their game going for it hell for leather. The best teams lose games sometimes; the weaker sides have their day in the sun, there can be games with 30 shots on goal and be no goals scored but these things are what make football the great game is it. If you’re not gripped by these things and only expect your team to win every week, then maybe football isn’t the game for you (especially if you’ve been following NUFC over the years).

Granted the following is an extreme example of how a crowd can negatively influence the players on the pitch. Mark Bosnich said the singing or mass criticising or booing him never really bothered him personally; it was the individual voices he would hear which led to his infamous ill-conceived Hitler salute towards Tottenham Hotspur fans. Consider this the next time you hurl abuse at the players that are currently trusted with getting us out of this league. At the end of the season were you part of the group that helped or hindered our cause?

Rafa’s media briefings all stress the importance of fans and players all pulling in the same direction. I would hate to think we would lose a manager of his calibre because he didn’t feel the fans were buying into what he is trying to do.

The chronic lack of atmosphere at St James Park means these people willing to have a pop have the platform to be heard. I suppose there’s always going to be that element in amongst the crowd, all the double glazing in the world can keep the howling wind and rain out but you can still hear the sneck on the gate being lifted by the postman.

It seems the small minority get the attention in the media, the mass walkout on the hour v Fulham did not happen as it would be believed on Twitter etc. I did however hear boos after conceding the first goal, the first goal of a pretty even game up until that point. What affect do think this is going to have on the players? I’m not making excuses for the players but we only conceded a goal not the game, have we as fans become soft?

We need to sort our home form out, why? At the moment we’re top of the league and well placed for promotion. I’m sure if we were looking at top spot from lower down in the table as a result of our home form I’m sure Rafa would try something different if he deemed it necessary because he is capable of getting the team to play in different ways, we’ve seen it a number of times this season. Maybe Rafa is limited by what players he has available to him, he did ask for players in January.

We’re no worse off than the last promotion campaign at this stage of the season. Obvious difference between now and then is that we have a third team involved in the chase for automatic promotion. Last time it was just us and West Brom, we end up finishing 23 points clear of Nottingham Forest in third. Maybe it’s Huddersfield’s nagging presence that is causing nervousness with so much at stake.  Last time our strength was our home form, this time it looks like our away form is going to pull us through, points are the same value regardless where you get them.

Revolution: a forcible overthrow of a government or social order, in favour of a new system.

We were screaming to get rid of Pardew for a new way of playing, we end up with Carver then McClaren. We knew as a fan base a drastic overhaul was required at the Club in order to get it moving in the right way.

In my opinion in Rafa we have the first major step in getting that but it takes time. Graham Carr should be the next to go and hopefully this summer will bring that. Ashley is the main target  to shift long-term but one step at a time, we need to get promoted, we don’t want to stay in a position where we are living off more of Ashley’s hand outs, further entrenching himself in the Club making the idea of him ever selling up an even further distant prospect.

Look, I’m just another supporter with a point of view, you don’t have to listen to me (you may have already stopped reading by now), but listen to Rafa, he’s been through it and seen it all in his time as a football manager. That doesn’t mean he’s beyond criticism, he’ll make mistakes, but he has asked that we get behind the team and get behind what he’s trying to do, it is so important that we get promoted this season – only then we can start thinking beyond that.

Howay me bonny lads!!!

You can follow the author on Twitter @lyon1892

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