Keegan leaves NUFC - latest reaction

KEVIN Kegan has resigned as manager of Newcastle United.

Kevin Keegan

Fans and former players reacted with unprecedented fury tonight as it was announced that Kevin Keegan has quit as NUFC boss.

Keegan’s resignation was announced by the League Managers’ Association (LMA) at just before 7pm.

Fans gathering in the city centre immediately began talk of the Toon Army boycotting the next home game - against Hull City a week on Saturday.

While ex defender John Anderson - who played in the same team as Keegan in the 80s - talked of a revolution, from both supporters and professionals.

The Irishman said: “Quite possibly there could be a boycott by the fans because they hold Kevin dear to their hearts.

“He was one of them, he always kept them informed, and always told the truth.

“It’s going to be very interesting to see what the crowd is next Saturday when they play Hull.”

Anderson, who played more than 300 games for the club, said the coach was popular with his players.

“I can imagine they will be gutted. There could be a player revolt. A lot of senior players are away on international duty.

“He always stuck up for his players and that is why they loved playing for him.”

The pundit said there would be trouble if Ashley’s executive director (football) Dennis Wise was named as Keegan’s successor.

“He would be a very brave man to appoint Dennis Wise as manager. If he became manager, I don’t think the crowd would be 20,000 next week.”

More than 200 supporters demonstrated on the steps leading into the main stand of the ground tonight.

Police officers kept a low profile as more fans joined the protest after hearing the news.

Chants of ``boycott the club“ were followed by angry finger pointing directed towards the offices in the ground where lights were still on as darkness fell.

Fans said it was more than a token performance for the television cameras.

Musician Alan Watson from Fenham, a couple of miles from the ground, said: ``We have to protest and hopefully it will have some effect.

``But of course it is Ashley’s money and Ashley’s club. Most people think it is just a toy to him.”

The news came after days of speculation over the 57-year-old’s future at the club, which began on Monday after Newcastle failed to land any big-name signings in the transfer window.

Keegan is understood to have been unhappy with the role of executive director Dennis Wise in transfer policy.

Keegan’s relationship with the club hierarchy is thought to have broken down irreparably, and he has not taken training since the transfer window closed on Monday.

The resignation brings a sour end to Keegan’s second spell in charge at St James’s Park, where he achieved folk hero status in the 1990s for leading the Magpies from the brink of footballing oblivion to the upper reaches of the Premier League.

Earlier this week the club were forced to issue a statement saying they had not sacked the former England manager as angry fans gathered at the stadium in Keegan’s support.

In a statement released through the LMA, Keegan said he had been left with no choice but to leave Newcastle.

“I’ve been working desperately hard to find a way forward with the directors, but sadly that has not proved possible,” he said.

“It’s my opinion that a manager must have the right to manage and that clubs should not impose upon any manager any player that he does not want.

“It remains my fervent wish to see Newcastle United do well in the future and I feel incredibly sorry for the players, staff and, most importantly, the supporters. I have been left with no choice other than to leave.”

The coach, dubbed “the Messiah“, has been strongly backed by supporters since news of his row with owner Mike Ashley surfaced on Tuesday.

The LMA has supported Keegan during this week’s crisis talks, and its chief executive, Richard Bevan, said he shared the manager’s frustration that the dispute could not be resolved.

Keegan returned to Newcastle in January after the departure of Sam Allardyce, and led the team to Premier League safety, before making a solid start to the new season.

But shortly after appointing Keegan, club chairman Ashley brought in Wise as a “executive director (football)“ - effectively above Keegan’s head - while Tony Jimenez was appointed vice-president of player recruitment.

Keegan claimed last week that the decision to sell midfielder James Milner to Aston Villa was his, but it is understood the club were willing to sell other players behind his back, and matters are thought to have come to a head on Monday, when rumours circulated that Michael Owen and Joey Barton were available for sale.

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