Keegan set for emotional Newcastle return

ON THE BALL AGAIN: Kevin Keegan
ON THE BALL AGAIN: Kevin Keegan
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KEVIN Keegan is relishing an emotional return to Newcastle to take charge of his swashbuckling ‘Entertainers’.

Keegan will be back in the dugout on Sunday at Kingston Park (1pm kick-off) for one final time.

The 60-year-old will be taking charge of team of former Newcastle United players, including United’s all-time record goalscorer Alan Shearer, David Ginola, Robert Lee and Faustino Asprilla in a one-off charity game.

They will take on a Liverpool XI which includes Ian Rush, Bruce Grobbelar and Steve McManaman.

And the game will evoke memories of mid-1990s when Newcastle, under Keegan, battled for the Premier League title playing a brand of football that captured the imagination of the country.

“The greatest part for me will be seeing a few people I haven’t seen for a while,” said Keegan.

“I bump into some of the lads, but I haven’t seen some of the people since they stopped playing for Newcastle all those years ago. I’m really looking forward to it.”

Reflecting on his first spell as United manager, Keegan went on: “It wasn’t planned, but every time we bought a player they seemed to be better going forward than defending.

“Everyone said at the time you can’t win a league playing like this, and unfortunately they were proved right. We should have won it, but we just couldn’t get home.

“If you look now at football - Barcelona, Man City and Manchester United - nearly all the teams are playing that way.

“The centre halves are coming out and the full backs are bombing on.

“Had we won the championship that year, that would have changed a lot of people’s minds earlier.

“We were probably just a bit ahead of our time.

“To be honest, only Darren Peacock was a defender. Philippe Albert used to like scoring goals more than stopping them. We said ‘what’s the point of trying to play defensively?’

“We had goals in us, and most times we felt if the opponents scored three, we’d score.

“I remember telling John Beresford to defend once, and he swore at me so I took him off.

“We trained to go forward. People were a bit unkind at the time saying we didn’t do defensive work, but we did.

“Our instinct was to go forward. We didn’t win a title, but people still talk about it. Those players are the fans’ favourites - those times were those they remember best. They enjoyed it.”