Newcastle United Managers best AND worst – Kevin Keegan to Eddie Howe
The subject of Newcastle United Managers is always one to provoke a decent debate…
Recently I have seen various comments about who actually are our worst and best ever managers
I have contemplated these conundrums and decided that it was only fair I judged Newcastle United Managers within my lifetime, concluding with giving each a mark out of ten.
Now in this third and final part, we kick off with the return of KK…
Kevin Keegan 2008
After Sam Allardyce’s departure, Newcastle United were well and truly back in the doldrums and looking increasingly likely to end up in a fight against relegation.
But we had been there before and also been a lot worse off.
Step forward Kevin Keegan once again.
KK answered what seemed like a genuine SOS call from Mike Ashley and comfortably guided Newcastle into calmer waters and mid-table respectability.
In the meantime, Ashley had appointed Dennis Wise as Director of Football to the dismay of many.
Chelsea visited St James’ Park for the final home game of the season and Kevin Keegan gave a very sombre post match interview explaining that the remit under Ashley was different to what it had been in his first spell as manager, and he went on to say that he had been informed that he wouldn’t be provided with the necessary resources to compete with the elite clubs.
A frustrating summer followed and it seemed that Keegan was being ignored when it came to potential recruitment.
Everything came to a head when the 2008 summer transfer window closed and Kevin Keegan felt he had been shafted by chairman Derek Llambias and the rest of Ashley’s ‘Cockney Mafia’.
It later emerged that Kevin Keegan had been disgracefully treat and consistently lied to, and with his enormous pride at stake, didn’t have any other option but to resign.
10 /10 Keegan (0/10 Ashley and his cronies)
Joe Kinnear 2008-2009
With Tyneside in uproar, Joe Kinnear soon took the manager’s job on an interim basis until Ashley thought things had calmed down enough to appoint him full-time.
He would be the first one of Ashley’s ‘yes men’ to take the hot seat and Newcastle once again found themselves in a relegation fight.
Kinnear had to stand aside due to health problems and it was left to first team coach Chris Hughton to hold the fort until a new manager could be appointed.
Alan Shearer 2009
On April Fool’s day, Alan Shearer was given the task of saving Newcastle United’s Premier League bacon.
In his eight games in charge he won one game against Middlesbrough, taking five points from a possible 24.
Newcastle were then relegated.
Chris Hughton 2009-2010
Chris Hughton began the 2009/10 season in a caretaker role.
Newcastle surprised many by hitting the ground running in the Championship and the team were soon riding high at the top of the league.
Chris was given the job on a permanent basis and Newcastle were unstoppable and crashed through 100 points as they went straight back up as Champions.
The 2010/11 season started with us gaining revenge over Aston Villa for what had gone on 15 months earlier at Villa Park when we were relegated. They were thrashed 6-0 with Andy Carroll bagging a hat-trick.
This was soon followed up with a 5-1 hammering of the mackems and a 1-0 win away at Arsenal courtesy of another Carroll effort.
Newcastle United and Chris Hughton were doing so well that Mike Ashley then decided to sack him.
Alan Pardew 2010-2014
After the popular Chris Hughton, Toon fans were soon treated to the underwhelming appointment of Alan Pardew.
The highlight of Pardew’s four years at Newcastle was a fifth place finish in 2012 and entry into Europe.
Most of the rest of the time was spent in an eternal struggle and listening to Pardew dedicate ‘must win’ games to our owner.
An unpopular manager, Pardew upped sticks and left for Crystal Palace mid-season.
Another first-team coach, John Carver was then given the job on a temporary / trial basis.
Newcastle went on to narrowly avoid relegation on the last day of the season with a victory over West Ham.
Steve McClaren 2015-2016
McClaren got the manager’s job in the summer of 2015, he was even afforded a place on the ‘board’, as Newcastle United went on an unusual spending spree.
A lot of this money was wasted though on average players, the team were woefully inconsistent and results soon went from bad to worse.
McClaren was sacked with Newcastle staring relegation in the face once again in 2016.
Rafa Benitez 2016-2019
Rafa Benitez came in on a short-term deal to try and preserve Newcastle’s Premier League status.
Results instantly improved but the damage had already been done.
We beat Spurs 5-1 at St James’ Park on the final day of the season and Rafa Benitez received a standing ovation for his efforts.
This must have made a great emotional impact on the little Spaniard because he then went and surprised the football world by accepting a contract off Mike Ashley with a remit to bring us straight back up.
Rafa managed to do this with aplomb and once again we bounced straight back up as Champions.
No lessons had ever been learned though within the seemingly empty corridors of power at St James’ Park, and Rafa Benitez was consistently undermined, until after three exhausting seasons he eventually quit in the summer of 2019.
Steve Bruce 2019-2021
For many years, lots of Newcastle United fans had breathed sighs of relief whenever we dodged a bullet and Bruce never managed to fill our vacant manager’s chair.
Our luck finally ran out when he controversially left Sheffield Wednesday to take up Ashley’s lucrative offer to manage Newcastle in 2019. It didn’t matter to Bruce that he hadn’t been Ashley’s first, second or even third choice, but the fans had no option but to bite the bullet on this occasion and see how things would play out.
It didn’t take long for a pattern to start developing, and as results were generally poor, we were frequently reminded that this was basically the ‘Mighty Rafa’s team’ and that he was trying to implement a new style of play.
Over the next two years one excuse after another was given as to why the team were so bad, and players became angered as their manager started playing the blame game, regularly throwing them under the bus.
It also came to light that the players were not being trained adequately or long enough, and that fitness levels were way below what they should have been.
After Newcastle’s takeover in October 2021, Steve Bruce was soon sacked to the relief of all true Newcastle United supporters.
(*I know that I said I would never mention him in an article again but SB had to be mentioned by name in the context of this debate)
Eddie Howe 2021- Present
Eddie Howe may not have been the first choice for our new owners but he was certainly the right one.
What Eddie and his backroom team achieved after taking over a Newcastle United in total disarray can never be overestimated.
He has brought an air of calm and tranquility to the place, the football is turning into a pleasure to watch again, the fans are happy and the players look rejuvenated.
He enjoys working on the training pitch and seems to know what characteristics are required for a player to be a part of a successful Newcastle United going forward.
We have had a solid start to this season and as Eddie Howe approaches his first anniversary as Newcastle boss, he has hardly put a foot wrong so far, and I believe it is only going to get better.
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