Kevin Keegan returned to the North-East this week for a speaking engagement along with Peter Beardsley, Terry McDermott, and Chris Waddle. During that event, Keegan told fans that they can still dream big for Newcastle despite having Mike Ashley as the owner.
However, he warned that for Newcastle to get back to the top end of the Premier League, they were going to have to go about it differently than the top six clubs do.
This what Keegan said about how Newcastle can get back to the upper echelon of the Premier League:
“There’s no reason why they shouldn’t be. You had more chance in the 1970s and 1980s than you have now – regardless of what’s happening now at the football club. Attracting the big players now is always going to be difficult because of the London clubs.
“The big players now are mainly foreign players, no disrespect to the English players. So all those things have conspired to go against us because of the location.
“I think this time it has to start with youngsters coming through again. It has to be a different way. You won’t get big-name players to Newcastle because the really big ones will now go to Man United, Man City or Liverpool, Tottenham or Arsenal or Chelsea, and then after that you are pitching in with the others.”
Newcastle have been reportedly interested in increasing the talent level of the Academy. Steve Bruce mentioned earlier in the summer that money was set aside to bring in some talented youngsters. Newcastle did bring in Kyle Scott, Jake Turner, and Ludwig Francillette to help boost the Under-23 squad however they were all free agents.
The last time Newcastle were battling at the top of the Premier League was in the 2011-12 season when they secured a fifth-place finish under Alan Pardew. That team benefitted from some very astute signings like Demba Ba, Yohan Cabaye, and Papiss Cisse. A failure to follow that terrific campaign with a suitable transfer window the following summer was a monumental mistake.
Alan Pardew recently said the following about that season:
“We managed to put performances in and have a season which was really unprecedented in the last 15 years. Only Leicester could have bettered what we did at Newcastle.”
Since then it’s been all downhill at Newcastle with the club’s two best finishes being 10th place in 2014 and 2018. It looked like that tide was going to turn this season as Rafa Benitez’s three years at the club seemed primed to push Newcastle into the top of the table. However, that all fell apart when Mike Ashley failed to meet the Spaniard’s level of ambition for the club and Rafa ended up leaving this summer.
That decision, along with the cruel BZG takeover saga, led to a toxic summer which has seeded a renewed interest in boycotts of St James Park. The apathy that Mike Ashley has fermented at the club has seen the attendances at St James Park plummet this season.
The Chronicle have published some of Keegan’s comments on the state of Newcastle as he waded into the controversial topic of boycotts. This is Keegan’s take on the subject:
“What I said last time ended up being at the ground (via a banner). But it is your club. Everybody will have a different opinion on what you should do with what has happened in the last 12 years.
“The only opinion that really matters is your opinion. If you want to go to the game – go. Because you love the club.
“If you love the club so much that you think you can’t, don’t go. I’m not a person that goes round shoving their opinions on to everybody else. This is an individual choice that you have. Don’t be bullied. If you want to go, go.
“Those players still need your support. You have to think long and hard and I know it’s tough. I know there’s other stuff, and I don’t disagree with any of that. I see all the angles, but everybody is different. Don’t let people clone you and do things you don’t want to do. Be yourself.”
We couldn’t agree more with Kevin Keegan’s assessment. It is a personal decision and is up to the individual.
The fans seem evenly split on the subject of boycotts. We will likely continue to see the diminished attendance levels at St James Park but we don’t see the levels getting too much lower than they currently are.
Our outlook could change though if Newcastle continue to struggle and end up cashing in on some players like Fabian Schar this winter. We don’t expect the club to make any further cataclysmic decisions this winter in the current climate. Although every time we think Ashley couldn’t possibly destroy this club anymore, we get a cold reminder that he can.