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“I will love it if we tie them! I will love it if we…don’t lose by more than, say, two goals…”

kevin-keegan.jpgKevin Keegan will be the next manager of Newcastle after agreeing to return to the club he ran from 1992-1997. The club, perhaps giving in to the moment of giddiness that would naturally follow on the heels of such a development, released a statement that read, in full:

Geordie messiah to return – Kevin Keegan is returning to Newcastle United as manager.

Then again, it’s entirely possible that there’s nothing giddy about this statement at all. It would be perfectly consistent with the administrative temperament of the club, after all, if the actual messiah had been available for the job, and Newcastle only approached him after being rebuffed by Gerard Houllier.

What I love about Kevin Keegan taking the job is that it will lead to an explosion in coverage the main characteristic of which is that you can’t tell whether you’re meant to take it seriously or not. Ever since Sam Allardyce was fired last week, I’ve been seeing statements to the effect that “Keegan would be an interesting choice for the job” or “If they’re sensible they’ll look at Kevin Keegan.” Are these people being serious? Are they being sarcastic? I genuinely don’t know. There’s something about Kevin Keegan that makes it impossible to say. On the one hand, he did sort of save the club the last time he managed it. On the other hand, he’s Kevin Keegan. He seems to exist in a small dead spot on the resonating surface of tone.

keegan-messiah.jpgMORE ON KEVIN KEEGAN: His signature moment, the rant against Alex Ferguson concluding with the famous declaration, “I will love it if we beat them…love it!” In other news, Newcastle’s last match was a 6-0 defeat to Manchester United.

MORE ON NEWCASTLE: Michael Hann goes in for a crunching tackle on Alan Shearer in the Guardian Sport blog today. Among the adjectives Hann uses to describe Shearer are nasty, niggly, cowardly, cruel, unhealthy (twice), and arrogant. Worth a read. Thanks to Martha for the link.

UPDATE! MORE ON THE SUBLIMITY OF LATE 1970s POP MUSIC: Tom at Pitch Invasion (who’s been agitating for Keegan all along) points out that bloggers are about to unleash a torrent of awful Keegan photos to commemorate today’s news. So here’s mine: the cover of his best-known single(*), “Head Over Heels in Love,” which peaked at #31 in the UK pop charts in 1979. The B-side is “Move on Down,” which makes the single overall a plausible soundtrack for the likely before-and-after narrative of Keegan’s decision to take control of the club.

MAJOR UPDATE!! [audio:Head_Over_Heels.mp3]

I like the way Keegan’s perm blots out the bottom of the song title. How do we know the record isn’t actually called “Head Over Hffls in Love”? I don’t think we know that.

* The original version of this post stated that “Head Over Heels in Love” was Keegan’s debut single. In fact, as any Tyneside schoolboy could tell you, Keegan released one earlier single, “It Ain’t Easy,” six years before. Why do all his song titles seem to bear directly on the experience of coaching Newcastle United?

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“I will love it if we tie them! I will love it if we…don’t lose by more than, say, two goals…”

by Brian Phillips · January 16, 2008

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