THE MOUSE TRAP

January 18, 2008 |

Recently there was a wanted ad placed in the Newcastle Evening Chronicle:
 
“Premiership club desperately seeking new manager for “will fail” position. Must have iconic appeal. Usual figurehead duties will apply. Previous just-over-50%- success-rate experience with club a bonus.”
 
And so Mighty Mouse, Kevin Keegan, gets a second stab at the Newcastle United manager’s job. And a stab it is. This might be the final thrust through the big heart of a world-class player that won nearly everything there was to win on the pitch, but couldn’t quite get it done as a manager.
Of course there is no shame in being runner up to Man U for the league title, but after having a 12 point lead and watch it slip away, well, you can draw your own inferences. You can say one thing for him, he’s not afraid of a challenge. Mighty by name, mighty by nature. In his successes and his failures.
First it was Newcastle. He got them into the Premiership after one year in charge and nearly took all the domestic marbles. Then it was Fulham. He took them up a division. And who can forget England – and what a spectacular balls up that was. He is on record as being the worst manager in England’s illustrious history winning just shy of 39% of his games. No manager yet has been worse in the win/loss column. 
The axe at Toon, which has seen the necks of managerial magnates and minnows alike, hasn’t had much time to gather dust in the last 15 or so years. Outside of Keegan’s 4-season stint in the mid-90s and Robson’s steady downward spiral in the new millennium, the average stint of a manager is nigh on a year.
I wish him all the luck in the world in his new/old position. He’ll more than likely need it. His swagger and personage will no doubt have the predicted impact – at least initially – but I don’t think it will have any longevity. I hope that I’m wrong and that Mighty Mouse will be the man to lead them to the success that has eluded them for so long. But I fear these are cracks that reach all the way down to the foundation. A new paint job won’t cover them for very long.
I wonder if Keegan is the rabbit foot-wielding type. I think things are too far gone for virgin sacrifice in Newcastle.
 
I guess I should weigh in on Liverpool’s drubbing of Luton Town. Regardless of what our storied key-tapping, asterisk-toting friends in London might have you believe, a 5-0 victory is still a 5-0 victory. Whether or not it is a full-strength Man U or a crippled Luton Town – a very resolute crippled Luton Town I might add – five balls in any net is still a good showing. Don’t ever worry about that. And Stevie G’s third was sublime.
Anyway, the magnitude of the victory was always destined to be eclipsed by the plight of the much-maligned Luton team. Decimated by under-valued trade-aways and murmurs of dissention in the ranks impacted by their financial woes and the imminent departure of manager Kevin Blackwell, it was the story off the pitch that held the attention of the journalists.
And yes, Liverpool will be keeping the appearance money. It does my old heart bad. When my grandfather played at Anfield, instead of selling his home tickets – which was the norm amongst the first team players – he would give them to the handicapped instead. But that was a different time and a different place when honor had no price and doing the right thing was free.
And as for finances affecting the general tenor around Anfield, Carra would have us all believe that it is business as usual in the Liverpool dressing room. And I so want to believe it. But the way that business is being conducted outside the stadium is anything but business like. At least not for Liverpool Football Club.
Whether or not the current state of discontent surrounding the ownership is a result of anti-American sentiment (which resurrects shades of Man U) is a little disappointing, but it is irrelevant. They, Gillett and Hicks, are quickly miring themselves irrevocably in the muck of botched backdoor dealings and unfulfilled promises. They are conducting themselves like a pair of fishwives airing the laundry and the gossip. Inside voice, gentlemen, inside voice.
We have the weekend off with Aston Villa on Monday. I’ll be watching.
That is all.
 

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