Kevin Keegan sums up everything I love about Newcastle United.
As a player, as a manager, and indeed just when speaking any time about the club, I love it, just love it.
He has his new autobiography (My Life In Football) coming out on 4 October and it is looking set to be everything that you would expect from him.
Heart on the sleeve, honest, and 100% believable.
In fact, everything that Mike Ashley is not.
The book is now being serialised in The Times and the tasters we are now getting (see below) are making the autobiography look like a must read.
On top of all the manipulations in terms of how the owner has Newcastle United as a stooge to prop up Sports Direct and the rest of his retail empire, Kevin Keegan exposes the actual stupidity of Mike Ashley in trying to run the football side of things.
Rather than putting trust in the likes of Kevin Keegan and Rafa Benitez, Ashley thinks he is clever and can cheat the system, can succeed by doing things in an unorthodox way, which basically means putting people in positions of power who haven’t got a clue what they are doing, backing the likes of Dennis Wise and Tony Jimenez, and many others, over the likes of Rafa and KK.
Some classic examples outlined here by Kevin Keegan, as published in The Times from the forthcoming book:
Incompetence, deceit and arrogance:
‘I came up against a wall of incompetence, deceit and arrogance; you really couldn’t make up some of the things that happened at Newcastle under this regime. It was a tragicomedy.
I knew it was important to build a relationship with [Tony] Jimenez. I was intrigued by this guy and wanted to know how a property developer had found himself in such an influential role at one of England’s top football clubs. He certainly talked well, but was there any substance to it?
Jimenez had risen without trace. Yet I did find out he had a background, of sorts, in football. It turned out this Newcastle executive — a man given the title of “vice-president (player recruitment)” — had previously been a steward at Chelsea’s home games. That was where the link with Dennis Wise, formerly a Chelsea player, came about, and how he had befriended some of the players at Stamford Bridge. It wasn’t the most glittering CV I had ever seen.
That wouldn’t have mattered too much if Jimenez could walk the walk, as well as talking the talk, but it wasn’t long before I began to suspect there might not be a great deal of substance behind the big promises.
Jimenez had positioned himself as a football expert but it turned out this bewildering character — the man in charge of Newcastle’s recruitment, no less — admitted during discussions about potential transfer targets that he had never even heard of Per Mertesacker.
Can you believe that? Mertesacker had made his debut for Germany four years earlier. He was recognised as one of the outstanding players in the 2006 World Cup and had been an ever-present for his national team when they reached the final of Euro 2008. He was one of the best defenders in Europe and would go on to win over 100 caps for his country. Yet Jimenez didn’t have the foggiest who he was. I tried my hardest to retain a sense of humour and, somehow, I could laugh on occasion at the absurdity of it all. But there were other moments when it made my head ache to think what they were doing to a famous old sporting institution. It was an incredible story, but a sad one, mostly — and I had never known anything like it at any other football club.’
Kevin Keegan in negotiations to sign Luka Modric:
‘His (Luka Modric’) agent flew up from London and this time it was me inviting Jimenez to be part of it, rather than him cutting me out of the loop. It was an opportunity to sign one of the outstanding young footballers in Europe and, to begin with, I was making decent inroads. I explained what a great club Newcastle was, how the supporters would adore Modric and how we were looking for someone to spark us off.
Then Jimenez piped up. “Can I come in here?” he said. “I don’t think Luka is good enough for the Premier League. He’s too lightweight. He’s decent, but he’s not good enough.”
Terry [McDermott] was also in the meeting and we just stared at each other in disbelief. The agent looked shocked. “What do you mean?” he asked. “Are you saying my player is not strong enough? Luka’s a very strong boy, I can assure you.” “That’s exactly what I mean,” Jimenez continued. “My view is that he’s too lightweight for English football, he’s too small.”
It was an awful moment and, ten years on, it needs only a cursory glance at Modric’s achievements to realise what a nonsense it was. Even back then, however, it was laughable.’