It is exactly 10 years ago today that Kevin Keegan walked away from Newcastle United, the NUFC legend finally having had enough of being undermined and played for a fool by Mike Ashley and his minions, notably Dennis Wise and Derek Llambias.
Kevin Keegan went on to win his case for constructive dismissal against Mike Ashley, the tribunal’s findings leaving nobody in any doubt as to who was in the wrong.
Ashley and his minions, Derek Llambias and Dennis Wise, were slaughtered when the judgement was announced, as it became clear just how badly Keegan and the Newcastle fans had been lied to.
The heart of the case was that when taking the job, Kevin Keegan had been assured that he had control of, and the final say on, transfers in and out.
Mike Ashley though didn’t keep to that promise, using Llambias and Dennis Wise to undermine Keegan and eventually force him out of the club as he (KK) refused to work under the conditions that the likes of Kinnear, McClaren and Pardew would end up doing so.
Matters reached a head for Kevin Keegan in the final days of the summer transfer window in 2008.
It had been well established already that Kevin Keegan had a number of players he’d personally identified and wanted to bring in.
It was widely reported in the media that there were four players and Keegan felt if they were brought in they could transform Newcastle’s fortunes.
One name that was mentioned at the time was Bastian Schweinsteiger.
The very idea that Keegan thought he could get the then top German superstar, was later used as yet another stick to beat the NUFC legend with, no doubt fed by Ashley’s PR machine trying to make out KK was deluded and had totally unrealistic expectations.
However, in October 2016 Terry McDermott put the matter straight.
Keegan’s former assistant making clear that the then top German international midfielder wasn’t somebody Keegan had personally identified, instead the Bayern Munich star was somebody the Newcastle Manager was told by the Newcastle United hierarchy he could have and was line up, if he agreed to sell James Milner.
Kevin Keegan didn’t want to sell James Milner but was persuaded to by Ashley’s people, on the understanding the Bayern Munich midfielder would be signed.
The reality of course then proving to be Newcastle landed instead with the very dodgy looking signings of the useless Xisco for £6m and the loan signing of midfielder Ignacio Gonzalez – which was later admitted to have been a loan deal done purely as a favour to an agent.
Terry McDermott speaking to 5 Times podcast in October 2016:
“He (James Milner) came from Leeds, we bought him…I think it was about four million quid, something like that, for him.
“He was only about 20 then, or 22, or something like that (Milner was actually only 18 when Sir Bobby bought him in 2004).
“When he came into the club we’d heard all about him, what a player he was. I had reservations about him but he grew on me.
“We were actually at the club when we sold him, myself and Kevin Keegan.
“We actually sold him for £15m and the story goes, I’ll tell you, it’s a true story this.
“We didn’t want him to leave but we needed other players in, we’d had a bid of £15m. So we said, we’ll tell you what we’ll do…’If we sell him for £15m how are we going to replace him?’.
“They (Newcastle hierarchy – Ashley/Llambias/Wise) said ‘We’ve already got one’.
“He (Kevin Keegan) said ‘Oh, who?’.
“They said ‘Schweinsteiger’.
“He’s at Man Utd now but years ago he was a superstar and they said we could get him.
“The idea of accepting the bid for Milner, for £15m, which was a lot of money then…but if we are looking to get Schweinsteiger, it’s a no-brainer!.
“After he’d (James Milner) signed for them (Aston Villa), the day after we (Newcastle) are ‘trying’ to sign Schweinsteiger, the answer was absolutely no chance because it will cost you £50m if you want to buy Schweinsteiger.
“So we ended up with no one to replace him.”