Keegan’s toughest challenge is to attract quality players to Newcastle United

So Keggy Keegan’s back on the Tyne. The Toon Army are partying like it’s 1999 and the red tops are thanking the great editor in the sky. It’s a football fairytale and if all the work shy script writers over in Hollywood hadn’t recently downed pens, I’m sure they’d already be working on the film.

Reality, however, will have to kick in eventually. The tepid performance at St James’ Park against Bolton on Saturday evening was merely the thin edge of the wedge for Keggy and as he contemplates the enormous task in front of him, The Messiah could be forgiven for reaching for the Valium.

Newcastle’s biggest problem is the curse. No-one knows how it happened — maybe Michael Owen was rude to a gypsy on the Metro, maybe Shay Given’s a secret Satanist — but the fact remains St James’ is cursed. Players who dare to pull on the back and white shirt suddenly become inexplicably rubbish.

Let’s examine the evidence. Albert Luque, Alan Smith, Claudio Cacapa, Damien Duff, Patrick Kluivert, Jean-Alain Boumsong, Michael Owen, Nicky Butt, Titus Bramble, Laurent Robert, Hugo Viana, Carl Cort, Alain Goma, Elena Marcelino, Christian Bassedas. They’ve all seen their reputations go down the pan after signing on the dotted line. Some have never recovered.

In short, Newcastle has become a graveyard of careers. It happened to strikers at Liverpool (Morientes, El Hadji Diouf, Cisse, Kuyt, Baros) before Fernando Torres’ arrival and Keggy has to find a way to banish the bad juju that is hanging over the club. Maybe if he sacrificed Joey Barton on the half-way line…

The point is, right now what sane player would actually want to sign for Newcastle? Obviously the chance to trouser some of Mike Ashley’s millions wouldn’t go amiss but in purely footballing terms, it’s not exactly an enticing prospect, is it? Fancy ruining your reputation? Yeah? Well come and play for Newcastle!

The weekend papers were predictably awash with transfer speculation, linking Keggy with big-money moves for Michael Carrick and Dimitar Berbatov. Laugh? I haven’t stopped. At the moment Newcastle would be lucky if Titus Bramble agreed to come back.

Maybe Keggy will be able to entice some new players to Tyneside. There’ll probably won’t be many dull moments with him in the hot seat but unless Newcastle start living up to their own expectations, he’s going to struggle in the transfer market. He desperately needs reinforcements to add the flair the fans crave but a big fat chequebook alone may not be enough.

Written by Ian Spragg (from Sport Media Solutions) and originally published here on, a Soccerlens partner.

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