Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Football: 'We Will Bring in Big Names' United Have Pulling Power - Harper

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Football: 'We Will Bring in Big Names' United Have Pulling Power - Harper

Article excerpt

Byline: MARK DOUGLAS

KEVIN Keegan may have effectively written off Newcastle United's chances of claiming a Champions League place for the duration of his time as manager, but long-serving goalkeeper Steve Harper still believes they will be a draw for potential summer transfer targets, writes MARK DOUGLAS.

Keegan's assertion that his team will never be able to compete with the socalled 'Big Four' in the wake of Monday's 2-0 defeat against Chelsea - allied to his admission that he does not know how much money will be invested in player recruitment this summer - raises concerns over the scale of the rebuilding job that the United manager will be allowed to carry out.

With the club still smarting from being turned down in favour of Tottenham by Croatia midfielder Luka Modric, some of the wilder optimism rebounding around St James's Park has been tamed. But while United may not have the lure of European football for the foreseeable future, Harper believes they do have one ace up their sleeves - Keegan himself.

"We know from the last time Kevin was here that once the place starts rolling it just snowballs after that and we hope it has the same effect now," he said. "We've got a big game on Sunday. Get that out the way and we've got three months to recruit top players here. With Kevin and an owner who's not struggling for a few quid, hopefully we can attract some top players and get back up where we belong."

Reflecting on a chastening season, which has seen United flirt with the drop, Harper still believes there are positives to take from the campaign. Ultimately the Chelsea result wasn't one of the highlights, but there were signs United are improving as they matched the Blues for most of the first half. Now Harper is looking to recapture that momentum as they take on an Everton side chasing fifth place. …

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