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Kevin Keegan ‘I would love it…’ rant at Sir Alex Ferguson 26 years to the day later

3 weeks ago
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It is exactly 26 years since Kevin Keegan made his famous ‘I would love it…’ speech / rant.

Keegan gave it to Sir Alex Ferguson with both barrels, only minutes after Newcastle had beaten Leeds at Elland Road with a Keith Gillespie goal on 29 April 1996.

The result meant that Newcastle were level on points with Manchester United but an inferior goal difference, so if both clubs won their remaining two matches then realistically Man Utd would be champions.

Ferguson had stoked tensions with quite shockingly unprofessional comments, suggesting that the likes of Leeds and Nottingham Forest wouldn’t try as hard against Newcastle as they did against his Manchester United team.

To basically accuse other clubs and players of cheating, not trying, was a new low for Ferguson.

Kevin Keegan was incensed and after that 1-0 win over Leeds, 26 years ago today, he told Sky Sports:

“When you do that with footballers, like he said about Leeds, and when you do things like that about a man like Stuart Pearce,

“I have kept really quiet, but I’ll tell you something, he (Ferguson) went down in my estimation when he said that.

“We have not resorted to that, but I’ll tell you, you can tell him now if you’re watching it.

“We’re still fighting for this title, and he’s got to go to Middlesbrough and get something, and… and… I’ll tell you, honestly, I will love it if we beat them, love it!”

I remember after that Leeds game, obviously we were all talking about what Kevin Keegan had said but on the drive home, all the talk was of how proud we were to have such a passionate talented manager defending our club.

Of course, the victors write history and now many people are just brainwashed into thinking that this was in some way Kevin Keegan losing the plot.

If Newcastle had ended up winning the title, then no doubt a lot of people would have pointed to what Keegan did after that Leeds match, as being a positive rousing title winning speech.

There are so many myths / untruths told about that season and it wasn’t Newcastle United losing the title, it was Manchester United winning it.

Man Utd came with an incredible run and in Cantona and Schmeichel they had two outstanding players who won them the majority of their points.

Newcastle suffered by having a much smaller squad and when certain players maybe needed to go on the bench for an odd game, they couldn’t, because there was nobody of remotely the same quality.

Much rubbish is talked of Keegan’s supposedly clueless tactics and shocking defence, ignoring the fact that Newcastle only conceded two goals more than Man Utd that season. Plus, in that high pressure run-in, when Newcastle played Leeds in what was the third last match of the season, that game at Elland Road was a third 1-0 victory in a row for Kevin Keegan – not exactly evidence of clueless tactics or losing the plot.

The real story was that Kevin Keegan had taken Newcastle United from the brink of disaster (relegation to the third tier) to within a whisker of winning the Premier League in only four years – it would have been a miracle every bit as wonderful as what Leicester managed to do in 2015/16.

Kevin Keegan was a magnificent success at Newcastle United, not a loser.

The game that did for Newcastle was 4 March 1996 when luck totally deserted Keegan and United, Newcastle absolutely battered Man Utd and Schmeichel single-handedly kept them in the game, with Cantona scoring their first real chance of the match.

Six years ago, Kevin Keegan was interviewed by the Irish Examiner on the 20th anniversary and this is what he had to say about it:

“It was nothing to do with mind games, it was just that Sir Alex Ferguson, I think, sometimes struggled to give teams credit and always looked for excuses.

“What he said was wrong, that teams like Leeds wouldn’t try as hard against us as they did against Manchester United. And that hit on something deeper: it was almost saying that football’s not straight. And it is. So that was my anger, if you like, at Sir Alex.

“I respect Sir Alex very much for what he’s done but I think he and Arsene Wenger are the two least favourite managers of mine because they never give anyone else credit.

“ If they lose, the shirt was the wrong colour or it’s the referee. To say, ‘we lost today because they were magnificent’, I think you’ve got to do that sometimes.

“Even if you’re a winner and you want to win everything, you have still got to give credit where it’s due.”

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