Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Keegan Denies His Exile Was Handicap; Magpies Boss Answers Critics

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Keegan Denies His Exile Was Handicap; Magpies Boss Answers Critics

Article excerpt

Byline: Luke Edwards

KEVIN Keegan knows Newcastle are prime targets for the critics since he returned to St James's Park, but he is adamant they are wrong to question his ability as a manager because of his temporary retirement from the game.

Keegan spent three years away from the Premier League and admitted in an interview before he agreed to return to the club he adores that he had not watched a single game of live football in that time.

But United's ever-exuberant manager has dismissed suggestions United's sluggish progress since he succeeded Sam Allardyce has anything to do with his brief period of self-enforced exile.

Not that he believes anyone will take much notice of him until he secures the team its first league win since a 1-0 away victory at today's opponents Fulham on December 15.

"I don't think me being out of the game for three years has had an impact because it hasn't taken me a while to get up to speed," said Keegan, who knows a victory this afternoon is the perfect way to build on the encouraging signs shown in the second half against Birmingham City on Monday night.

"But until we win a game, people can fire anything at you. You can write a hundred different things on why. No one fired it in last time when I had been in Marbella for seven years playing golf. If I had gone into a club I did not know it would have been much more different. I would have been trying to find the area, I would have been trying to find my bearings.

"But it is still the same people round here, not necessarily players because there is only Steve Harper left, I am talking about staff, there are so many people around us that I felt I was coming into a club I really knew.

"However, everything people label at you when you are not getting results you have got to take. You leave yourselves open to that criticism, just take it and get on with it.

But like I have told the players, we are the ones who have the ammunition to fight back, we are the ones who can reverse the stories. And I have told them, any of them who are feeling the pressure coming in, the good news here is that when you turn it round it will be twice as big the other way. …

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