Wise the source of Keegan's problems?
Stanley Ho
Thu, Sep 04, 2008
The New Paper

SACKED Newcastle United manager Kevin Keegan is a victim of politics within the club.

So says former Newcastle goalkeeper and staff coach John Burridge, who is also a close friend of Keegan and his long-time agent, Paul Strafford.

Burridge, who is a columnist with The New Paper and a regular pundit with Football Channel, called Strafford yesterday to find out what went wrong.

'I called Kevin's agent and asked him, 'What's happened to the boss?' Burridge revealed.

'He answered wearily, 'Politics, son, bloody politics. He's totally sick of it.'

'I asked him what will happen to Keegan now and he said, 'it's over for Kevin at Newcastle. He's going back to his roots. That's all I can say'.

'I believe it means Keegan is going back to his home town in Armthorpe, Yorkshire, and take a break from football management.'

Burridge understands from Keegan's agent that the Newcastle manager did not take training yesterday, and was instead locked in a furious discussion with club owner Mike Ashley.

The pair apparently had a blazing row over the club's transfer policies, and what Keegan perceived to be interference by the club's other officials.

It is believed Keegan, 57, feels undermined by Newcastle's executive director of football Dennis Wise, vice-president of player recruitment Tony Jimenez, and technical co-ordinator Jeff Vetere.


Things came to a head after Keegan's hopes for three or four major signings failed to materialise as the transfer window closed on Monday.

'The day Mike Ashley appointed a trio of officials to relieve some of Keegan's managerial duties, trouble was already brewing,' said Burridge, who was part of Keegan's coaching team from 1994 to 1996.

'No manager worth his salt will be able to bear the thought of someone interfering with your team affairs. Definitely not Keegan.

'Recently, Keegan had complained to me that his hands were often tied where recruitment was concerned.

'He doesn't have a mandate on which players to sign as all these decisions are made by Wise and Jimenez.'

Keegan is reportedly frustrated that he was not allowed to strengthen his squad further during this transfer window.

He had wanted four more players to add to the signings of Argentinian pair Fabricio Coloccini and Jonas Gutierrez.

'Not only that,' added Burridge. 'He was upset that James Milner was sold behind his back.'

Keegan recently claimed Milner would not be sold - only for the midfielder to join Aston Villa in a £12 million ($32.4m) deal two days later.

That appears to be the last straw for the charismatic manager, who just doesn't see eye-to-eye with Wise and Jimenez.

So what's next for Keegan?

Burridge believes a football-mad manager like Keegan will not stay out of football management for long.

'I have a hunch that Kevin will end up as Liverpool manager by the end of this season,' he said. 'Rafa Benitez is living on borrowed time and if the Reds are not challenging for the title by Christmas, he'll probably be sacked.

'Keegan, a Liverpool legend, will be the perfect man for that job.'

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