Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

'Newcastle Signed a Childhood Hero of Mine as Manager, and He Didn't Disappoint'

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

'Newcastle Signed a Childhood Hero of Mine as Manager, and He Didn't Disappoint'

Article excerpt

GAVIN Peacock worked under three different Newcastle United managers in just three years.

Here, Peacock recounts the different styles of Ossie Ardiles, Kevin Keegan and Jim Smith.

"Jim was a great football man with phenomenal experience and had the ability to pick a player - to sign a good player," revealed the now 49-year-old former midfielder.

"For instance, Pavel Srnicek - where did he come from? Out of the blue and he turns into one of the great goalkeepers for Newcastle.

"Jim had the ability to watch training on a Friday and see a player he wasn't going to play look good in training. He would take a gamble on him and that player would inevitably score."

Smith left the club in March 1991, labelling the club "unmanageable" as a boardroom power struggle began.

He was replaced by Ardiles, who set about bringing players through the youth ranks, and Peacock holds fond memories of the Spurs legend.

He said: "All the young players loved Ossie because he made you feel good, gave you freedom to play and at the time there was a bit of fear at St James' because we weren't hitting the high notes and there was a bit of pressure there.

"So Ossie brought in the young players, who the fans liked because they were coming through the youth system. He gave them confidence to play. He said to me: 'You're a rough diamond and I'm going to polish you and play you at the head of the diamond.' That really was my best position. Ossie really began to help me flourish."

With United bottom of the second division and Sir John Hall in charge, Ardiles was sacked and Keegan was persuaded to leave the sunny beaches of Spain. But Peacock admits that there were tears when Ardiles left.

"Kevin had gone off for seven years to Marbella and played golf with Sean Connery," recalled Peacock. "Ossie gets sacked, there's tears from players and I'm driving over the Tyne Bridge and I hear on the radio that we've signed Kevin Keegan.

"Kevin was a childhood hero of mine and I just thought, 'This is great'. He just brought this instant energy to the club. The fans loved him for what he had done, it was masterstroke, getting him in, because even though he hadn't got the managerial experience he had football knowledge and the ability to motivate and to put players together on the field where they'd click. …

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