Having watched the Arsenal vs Newcastle double-header over the past 4 days, I am by no means alone in wondering why on Earth they chose to sack Fat Sam and install Keegan mid-season. I know Mike Ashley is a fan and a football romantic who probably couldn’t resist the opportunity of bringing back the man that he worshipped a decade or so ago but, if he were to take stock and actually think about Keegan’s best interests for a moment, he wouldn’t have done it. ‘Special K’ is already looking like a beaten man, haggard, withdrawn and with an ashen complexion. On the evidence of Saturday’s match and, in particular, last night’s, it’s no surprise. He has inherited a side which is totally bereft of ideas in an attacking sense, with absolutely no craft or guile coming from the midfield (Nicky Butt, need I say more), and a forward line which packs all the punch of a foetus in a strait-jacket. Alan Smith looked a quality player in his Leeds days, but those days are long, long gone, as has the fire and hunger which made him the player he was back then. And Michael Owen is perhaps an example of ‘too much, too soon’, with the memories of his France ’98 performances and hat-trick versus Germany fading faster than a Tottenham Champions League challenge. He has never had the greatest touch or control in the world, but his searing pace and ability to sniff out an opportunity always made up for it – now the pace is on the wane, the opportunities are just not coming his way, and he cuts a very lonely figure in the Geordie attack.
But none of this is new news. Ashley, as a football fan, was surely aware of his side’s failings, and also aware that a squad this patchy and poor was not something that Keegan could do anything with. Much as I dislike Fat Sam Walrusface with a passion, he was far more qualified to get results out of a mediocre side than Keegan is or ever will be, so surely it would’ve made sense to keep him on until the end of the season, and THEN bring ‘the Messiah’ in and hand him a huge war-chest? That way he could’ve had a few months to settle back in, get things working the way he wants them to under no pressure of trying to get results. As things stand, I’d be less than surprised to see Keegan walk away from the club just a couple of months into the 2008/09 season due to unbearable stress, leaving Mike Ashley and the Geordie faithful back at square one – AGAIN!