Kevin Keegan - “I came up against a wall of incompetence, deceit & arrogance”

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Kevin Keegan - “I came up against a wall of incompetence, deceit & arrogance”

Post by TJR » Sat Sep 22, 2018 10:44 am

Kevin Keegan wrote:Nobody has ever officially told me I am banned from St James’ Park. Sometimes, though, you know when you are not welcome, and it is almost a decade now since it became apparent that, as far as the people at the top of Newcastle United are concerned, I will always be persona non grata as long as the Mike Ashley regime remains in place.

The saddest thing is that I would not want to go back anyway after everything that happened in my second spell as Newcastle manager and, though my feelings for the club won’t fade, that policy is set in stone until Mike Ashley has gone, and more than a hundred years of proud football history is removed from his business portfolio.

The only time I have made an exception came after an invitation to a private function at St James’ Park one night when there was no football on. It was a leaving do for a lifelong Newcastle fan. My first response was to send my apologies and explain it would be impossible for me to attend. Then I started feeling bad because the guy was leaving for a new life in America and I knew everyone wanted me to be there for his send-off. I didn’t want to let him down. And, besides, I have always loved a challenge.

I improvised. I put on a pair of glasses, I found a flat cap and I turned up the collar on my overcoat to complete the disguise. I found a quiet place to park my car, a safe distance from the ground, and then I walked in the back way, sticking to the shadows and avoiding eye contact with passers-by. It was dark and nobody had recognised me until I made it to the stadium entrance. Then one of the staff came over straight away. “Hello, Kevin,” she said, with one of those lovely Geordie welcomes. “What are you doing back here?”

My cover was blown but at least it was a friendly face rather than a hand being placed on my shoulder. The problem was I didn’t know if everybody in the building might be so hospitable and I didn’t want to take any chances. I asked if she would mind keeping it quiet and then I took the lift to the top floor. I had rung ahead to say I was on my way. Everyone had been briefed that the operation had to be conducted in complete secrecy and, when I hurried down a corridor, lined with photographs of my old teams, they were waiting for me inside one of the executive lounges. I was in and, apart from one minor scare, Operation KK had been a success. Mission accomplished.

I know how absurd it must sound and, when I think about it properly, what kind of craziness is it that someone with my long emotional history with Newcastle now has to smuggle himself into the ground where the owner used to call me “King Kev”? But this is an extraordinary club, run by unconventional people, and perhaps the most charitable way I can put it, as Jesus said on the cross, is to “forgive them for they know not what they do”.

These people don’t know what a precious club this is. They don’t comprehend that football in this big, vibrant city is about self-esteem. They have made a toy out of Newcastle United and, as much as it pains me to say it, I have no desire to be associated with the place for as long as that continues. I will gladly return when they have gone, and I am already looking forward to the day when Newcastle is free of the man who has lurched from one bad decision to another, run an empire of self-harm and handed money and power to people who deserved neither.

Until then, however, Ashley and his associates don’t need to worry about me making a habit of turning up incognito. I don’t want to share my oxygen with these people, trust me.

I have, after all, experienced the full force of the Ashley regime and, though I won my case against Newcastle for constructive dismissal, you can take my word that it wasn’t a pleasant experience being engaged in a legal battle against a man of such power and immense wealth. That it was Newcastle at the centre of this litigation made it an even more harrowing experience. Indeed, the whole thing was so hideous it convinced me I never wanted to work in football again.

I came up against a wall of incompetence, deceit and arrogance; you really couldn’t make up some of the things that happened at Newcastle under this regime. It was a tragicomedy.

I knew it was important to build a relationship with [Tony] Jimenez. I was intrigued by this guy and wanted to know how a property developer had found himself in such an influential role at one of England’s top football clubs. He certainly talked well, but was there any substance to it?

Jimenez had risen without trace. Yet I did find out he had a background, of sorts, in football. It turned out this Newcastle executive — a man given the title of “vice-president (player recruitment)” — had previously been a steward at Chelsea’s home games. That was where the link with Dennis Wise, formerly a Chelsea player, came about, and how he had befriended some of the players at Stamford Bridge. It wasn’t the most glittering CV I had ever seen.

That wouldn’t have mattered too much if Jimenez could walk the walk, as well as talking the talk, but it wasn’t long before I began to suspect there might not be a great deal of substance behind the big promises.

Jimenez had positioned himself as a football expert but it turned out this bewildering character — the man in charge of Newcastle’s recruitment, no less — admitted during discussions about potential transfer targets that he had never even heard of Per Mertesacker.

Can you believe that? Mertesacker had made his debut for Germany four years earlier. He was recognised as one of the outstanding players in the 2006 World Cup and had been an ever-present for his national team when they reached the final of Euro 2008. He was one of the best defenders in Europe and would go on to win over 100 caps for his country. Yet Jimenez didn’t have the foggiest who he was. I tried my hardest to retain a sense of humour and, somehow, I could laugh on occasion at the absurdity of it all. But there were other moments when it made my head ache to think what they were doing to a famous old sporting institution. It was an incredible story, but a sad one, mostly — and I had never known anything like it at any other football club.

Dennis Wise had been confirmed as the club’s director of football within a couple of weeks of my appointment. I had envisaged we would work together closely, but it wasn’t long before I realised that the likeable guy I used to pick for England — a chirpy little character who had never given me any problems — was going to stick very closely to Jimenez and, in turn, keep his distance from me.

At one point I took a call from Luka Modric’s agent to ask if I would be keen on signing the player from Dinamo Zagreb. Modric had already been speaking to Spurs and his agent was honest enough to explain the move to White Hart Lane was likely to happen. Yet it was clear there might still be a chance to gazump that deal, otherwise the agent would never have bothered getting in touch. “Mr Keegan, I’m a massive fan of yours and I’d very much like to discuss it with you,” he said. Dinamo Zagreb wanted £16 million and the wages were quite high, but it was still within our budget and, at 22, Modric had his best years ahead of him. He was exactly the kind of player I wanted to see in a black and white shirt.

His agent flew up from London and this time it was me inviting Jimenez to be part of it, rather than him cutting me out of the loop. It was an opportunity to sign one of the outstanding young footballers in Europe and, to begin with, I was making decent inroads. I explained what a great club Newcastle was, how the supporters would adore Modric and how we were looking for someone to spark us off.

Then Jimenez piped up. “Can I come in here?” he said. “I don’t think Luka is good enough for the Premier League. He’s too lightweight. He’s decent, but he’s not good enough.”

Terry [McDermott] was also in the meeting and we just stared at each other in disbelief. The agent looked shocked. “What do you mean?” he asked. “Are you saying my player is not strong enough? Luka’s a very strong boy, I can assure you.” “That’s exactly what I mean,” Jimenez continued. “My view is that he’s too lightweight for English football, he’s too small.”

It was an awful moment and, ten years on, it needs only a cursory glance at Modric’s achievements to realise what a nonsense it was. Even back then, however, it was laughable.
https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/kevi ... -lzmxxccml

Extract from his upcoming book. Another will be released on Monday:

Monday: Part two - deals that ended it all at Newcastle
‘It was fundamentally wrong at every level and various people were getting rich off the back of it. It turned my blood cold.’

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Re: Kevin Keegan - “I came up against a wall of incompetence, deceit & arrogance”

Post by Bodacious Benny » Sat Sep 22, 2018 1:16 pm

Definitely buying this.
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Re: Kevin Keegan - “I came up against a wall of incompetence, deceit & arrogance”

Post by Sir Bobby » Sat Sep 22, 2018 3:19 pm

Exciting to see how much of a joke we are <diva>

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Re: Kevin Keegan - “I came up against a wall of incompetence, deceit & arrogance”

Post by UlversToon » Sat Sep 22, 2018 4:18 pm

Sir Bobby wrote:
Sat Sep 22, 2018 3:19 pm
Exciting to see how much of a joke we are <diva>
A long running joke apparently!

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Re: Kevin Keegan - “I came up against a wall of incompetence, deceit & arrogance”

Post by lassassinblanc » Mon Sep 24, 2018 9:31 am

Looking forward to this alright, all the books I've read which deal with Newcastle (Bartons, Givens) the current regime don't come across as great, I think Keegan will blow those two out of the water with how incompetent they are.
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Re: Kevin Keegan - “I came up against a wall of incompetence, deceit & arrogance”

Post by Bodacious Benny » Mon Sep 24, 2018 11:41 am

lassassinblanc wrote:
Mon Sep 24, 2018 9:31 am
Looking forward to this alright, all the books I've read which deal with Newcastle (Bartons, Givens) the current regime don't come across as great, I think Keegan will blow those two out of the water with how incompetent they are.
Haven't read Barton's yet, but quite enjoyed Given's.
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Re: Kevin Keegan - “I came up against a wall of incompetence, deceit & arrogance”

Post by The Deluded Pablo Diego Jose Francisco » Mon Sep 24, 2018 1:06 pm

More frm NUFC.com
Monday's Times newspaper published a second extract from Kevin Keegan's forthcoming book:

My last job ended in rancour and recriminations and my final game as a manager was a 3–0 defeat at Arsenal in August 2008 that will probably always be remembered for the television cameras picking out Mike Ashley in the away end, where he proceeded to down a pint in roughly the same amount of time it has taken you to read this sentence.

It wasn’t Mike’s beer-guzzling that upset me that day. It was the fact that Tony Jimenez, the executive who had been put in charge of Newcastle’s transfer business, had informed me we were spending £5.7 million on a Spanish player called Xisco whom nobody from the club had ever seen play. On the same day the Xisco bombshell was dropped, I had also found out a Uruguayan by the name of Ignacio González was joining us as a “favour” for two South American agents.

Everything reached a head, trying to prepare for one of the toughest games of the season while also having to deal with the growing knowledge that the people who were supposed to be my colleagues were taking me for a ride.

It was on the morning of the game that Dennis Wise rang to ask me to go online and check out González. Dennis said he had heard great things but admitted he had never actually seen him play. Further enquiries revealed that nobody, in fact, from Newcastle had ever seen this guy kick a ball.

Nor did it say much for the player that Dennis had texted me the wrong name, and my initial search on the internet came up with nothing. I had to go back to Dennis to find out the correct spelling. But I did as he asked.

I logged on again, typed in González’s name and eventually found him. I looked at his background, his age and what he had done in his career, and it didn’t need a great deal of investigation to realise this player would be out of his depth in the higher echelons of the Premier League.

González had gone on loan to Monaco, then a mid-table team in France, earlier in the year and flopped. He made five appearances in six months and didn’t finish 90 minutes once. We were coming to the end of August and he had played fewer than 200 minutes since Christmas. He didn’t speak a word of English and, for the life of me, I couldn’t see any reason why Newcastle might be attracted to him.

When I rang Dennis to explain it was out of the question, he seemed determined to change my mind. González, he said, was a “great player” and our contacts in South America meant we had the chance to get him on a season-long loan. He was adamant we should give him a go and suggested that if I clicked on YouTube I might find some footage to change my opinion.

YouTube? I came from an era when managers chose players on more than a few carefully edited clips on YouTube. I wanted to know a player’s character. I wanted to see how hard he worked, whether he had a good positional sense, what his concentration was like. Those were things you didn’t get from 60 seconds online.

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing from Dennis — an experienced football man — but I did log on to YouTube and eventually found a short video showing González’s career highlights. It looked as if he was playing in a local park in some of the games.

It wasn’t long before my worst suspicions were confirmed and I had a tip-off that González and Xisco had already arrived in England. One was in London, I was told, and the other was in the North East. The two deals were going through, and it didn’t make me feel any better to learn about the amount of money the club intended to throw away in the process.

Xisco alone was costing £5.7 million as well as a salary of £60,000 a week. He was 22, which was a better age than González, but when I checked out his background it was unremarkable stuff again. He had been at Deportivo La Coruña ‘B’, the club’s reserve set-up, and then moved up to the seniors, playing 44 times in three years. It had earned him a call-up to Spain’s under-21s, but it was still absurd to expect him to play in front of 50,000-plus people at St James’ Park.

González had been offered a lower salary, at £26,000 a week, but that still worked out close to £1 million over the season, and a very strange deal had been cooked up whereby he was actually signing for Valencia, a big club with their own network of agents, and within 24 hours we were getting him on loan. What was all that about? It was an unusual arrangement, to say the least, and I didn’t like the look of it one bit.

What I didn’t know was what Mike Ashley made of it. Did he know these deals were being arranged behind my back? Did he care? My head was spinning and I did what I was told I should never do. I took out my phone and rang the owner.

He answered straight away and seemed happy enough to hear from me. “Hi, King Kev.” Mike always called me King Kev, or sometimes he would refer to me as “the most honest man in football”. I think, deep down, he respected the fact I had integrity.

He didn’t seem to know anything about the González loan, but he said — if it would make me feel any happier — he would pay for it out of his own pocket rather than the club’s transfer budget. He didn’t seem to realise why I was so aggrieved, and he certainly didn’t look too concerned when we went into that game against Arsenal and the television cameras picked him out in the away end with a pint of lager in his hand. Twelve seconds was all it needed for the entire pint to disappear down his throat. “Is he in a rush?” the television commentator asked.

We lost 3–0 and when I came home, utterly demoralised, I was already thinking that was it for me. I was sick of them; sick of the way they were riding roughshod over me, sick of being treated like dirt, sick of the attitude where they clearly thought, “Oh, don’t worry about the manager, he’ll come round in the end.” I had had enough. The next day I rang Mike again. “I’m just with someone,” he said, “but I’ll get back to you.” The phone went dead and he never rang back. He did that to me a few times at Newcastle. I waited a full day and then I texted him a message. “The most honest man in football treated like garbage.”

When I spoke to Wise on the telephone that day, it was the first time he explained the real reasons why the González loan was being done. Dennis explained it was a favour for two agents — Paco Casal, a Uruguayan, and Marcelo Lombilla, an Argentinian — who had helped us get (Fabricio) Coloccini and (Jonás) Gutiérrez, and that if we took the hit on this one occasion and agreed to “park” González, they would look upon us favourably in the future.

“You don’t even have to play this guy,” Dennis said. “We want to keep the agent sweet. If you don’t want the player to train with you, you can put him in the academy. And if you don’t like him, we can get rid of him in January.” Mike had been filled in and the owner’s view was that González didn’t even have “to set foot in St James’ Park”.

I thought Dennis was kidding at first. He liked a laugh and I genuinely thought he might be joking. When I realised he was actually being serious, I knew immediately that I couldn’t have anything to do with a deal of that nature. I wanted to save the club from the possibility of being investigated. I wanted to protect the people around me and I wanted to look after my own reputation. I didn’t like the word “parked” and I dreaded to think of the repercussions if what the club were doing reached the newspapers. It would have been a scandal and, as far as I was concerned, it was not one I could defend.

Dennis called it a “favour”. A favour? As favours go, it was going to cost Newcastle a fortune. Both players were going to earn seven-figure salaries, and in Xisco’s case it was upwards of £3 million a year. Casal pocketed €250,000 from Valencia as his slice of the (González) deal. It must have been the easiest money he had ever made and, laughably, González’s loan deal had an option to buy him for £8 million at the end of the season.

Newcastle were not breaking any rules but it looked terrible, and left us open to all sorts of questions. The club weren’t buying these players for orthodox reasons; it was to do a favour for two agents, one of whom was getting a six-figure sum for setting it up. I felt that it was fundamentally wrong at every level and various people were getting rich off the back of it. It turned my blood cold.

I had never been asked to “park” a player in my life and this wasn’t a kid of 15 or 16 we were talking about. This was a man of 26. Maybe Dennis, when he was a manager, would have done it. But I wouldn’t. “I have my pride and my dignity,” I told him. “I do not want to be associated with this deal. It stinks.”

I knew it was over but I wanted an explanation and I asked Dennis if he would have agreed to this kind of “favour” when he was managing Leeds. I told him I could ask the same question to a hundred managers and none would have put up with it. Can you imagine, I asked, what Alex Ferguson’s reaction would have been at Manchester United if two players had been signed behind his back? Or Rafa Benítez at Liverpool? Or any manager worth his salt?

“Juande Ramos at Spurs would do it this way,” he said. “Well, you need to find another Juande Ramos then,” I snapped.

I knew there was no way back for me at Newcastle. Maybe they thought I wouldn’t dare walk away from a £3-million-a-year contract but they obviously didn’t know me very well. They had made my job untenable and, when I officially announced my resignation, via the League Managers’ Association, I wanted to make it clear to the supporters that I had been in office but not in power. After that, I started the long and difficult process of filing a claim for constructive dismissal and preparing to take Newcastle to an independent arbitration panel. Newcastle launched a counter-claim for £2 million, citing a breach of contract.

Every day for two weeks I would walk from my hotel in London to 70 Fleet Street, the offices of the International Dispute Resolution Centre, where the tribunal was heard. I used that walk to clear my head. It was a difficult, gruelling experience and I will never know how Dennis Wise, with absolutely zero shame, could possibly think on the day he was giving evidence that I would want to shake his hand.

In the end, the three-man panel — Philip Havers QC, Lord Pannick QC and Ken Merrett, Manchester United’s assistant club secretary — didn’t need long to realise how lopsided all the evidence was. Their verdict was crushing for Newcastle because what it said, in short, was that the tribunal accepted my interpretation of events rather than the arguments made by the club. I felt vindicated. It was an enormous sense of relief; finally I could get on with my life and start putting it all behind me. But I was sad, too, that it had gone that far and appalled by some of the stuff that had come out.

It was certainly interesting to note the awkward body language as they gave evidence, under oath, and tried to explain the González loan at a time when Newcastle were supposedly trying to change the culture whereby agents had too much influence at St James’ Park and were making extraordinary amounts of money out of the club.

Wise’s argument was that it was not out of the ordinary for these kinds of deals to happen in football, referring to them as “commercials”, and telling a story about his time at Leeds to illustrate his point. According to Dennis, the Leeds chairman, Ken Bates, approached him to suggest they offer a boy of 17 a professional contract. The boy wasn’t good enough to be a footballer but that, plainly, was not the most important detail as far as Leeds were concerned. The boy’s father had a successful business and a lucrative deal had been arranged for that company to sponsor Leeds — on condition they signed the boss’s son.

The boy was never named. Yet Wise made it clear he was happy to go along with this sham. “I said to Ken, ‘He won’t play in the first team, he won’t play in the reserves, is that OK?’ And he said, ‘OK.’ It wasn’t explained to the boy. His dad didn’t tell him. And I didn’t think it was my responsibility either.”

Can you believe it? We all do favours for friends sometimes, or even friends of friends, but there is a big difference between setting up someone with work experience and offering a professional contract when you know it is all a pretence. It was completely wrong. It might be the way Leeds worked back then. It wasn’t the way I wanted Newcastle to be.

Newcastle were ordered to pay me £2 million, plus interest, as well as costs, with the panel condemning the club for “repeatedly and intentionally misleading the press, public and the fans of Newcastle United”, noting how the loan deal for González “cost nearly £1 million in wages for a player who was not expected to play in the first team”.

They had dragged the club’s reputation through the gutter and, when it came to González, I still find it difficult to understand how it didn’t spark an investigation by the football authorities. Let me stress that no rules had been broken, as was made clear in the tribunal, but can you ever remember a deal that looked worse? We were talking about vast sums of money changing hands as a so-called favour. Not once did anyone from the FA seem to think, “Hang on, what the hell was all that about?”

Xisco made nine league appearances for Newcastle in four-and-a-half years and scored once in all that time. He was loaned to Racing Santander and Deportivo La Coruña once Newcastle had cottoned on that he wasn’t good enough. His contract was terminated in January 2013 and the Newcastle Evening Chronicle named him as one of the worst centre forwards in the club’s history.

Ignacio González? He made two substitute appearances for Newcastle, totalling 38 minutes, before getting injured and was never picked again. Newcastle decided not to take the £8 million option to turn his season-long loan into a permanent transfer and he went back to Valencia, who didn’t want him either. The next stage of his career was on loan at Levadiakos of Greece, where he made 14 appearances, and he eventually joined Standard Liège on a free transfer.

Valencia didn’t use him once and, unless I am missing something, how precisely did Newcastle benefit from that “favour” with the two South American agents? Joe Kinnear took over from me as manager. Newcastle were relegated at the end of that season and more than a hundred honest, hard-working people lost their jobs. All those lives irrevocably changed for the sake of some South American backscratching.
Its just f***ing disgusting...

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Re: Kevin Keegan - “I came up against a wall of incompetence, deceit & arrogance”

Post by Bodacious Benny » Mon Sep 24, 2018 1:15 pm

f*** me, Xisco was on £60k a week 10 years ago!! Probably Shelvey is our only player on that amount now. And YouTube scouting Gonzalez <laugh>
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Re: Kevin Keegan - “I came up against a wall of incompetence, deceit & arrogance”

Post by lassassinblanc » Mon Sep 24, 2018 1:42 pm

<laugh>

You couldn't make it up

Denis Wise just seems like a weasely little f***. I've thankfully never come across him during my time scouting and hope after reading that I never will.
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Re: Kevin Keegan - “I came up against a wall of incompetence, deceit & arrogance”

Post by lassassinblanc » Mon Sep 24, 2018 1:46 pm

Bodacious Benny wrote:
Mon Sep 24, 2018 1:15 pm
**** me, Xisco was on £60k a week 10 years ago!! Probably Shelvey is our only player on that amount now. And YouTube scouting Gonzalez <laugh>
Ifirc Colo was on about 100k a week when we went down think he was our highest paid player during that season.
I read something that he was on more then the entire Plymouth Argyle starting squad when we played them.
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Re: Kevin Keegan - “I came up against a wall of incompetence, deceit & arrogance”

Post by lassassinblanc » Mon Sep 24, 2018 2:22 pm

Nor did it say much for the player that Dennis had texted me the wrong name

<laugh> <laugh> <laugh> <laugh>
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Re: Kevin Keegan - “I came up against a wall of incompetence, deceit & arrogance”

Post by Sir Bobby » Mon Sep 24, 2018 4:10 pm

I wonder if these sort of dodgy dealings contributed to the 25 man squad rule which came into effect 18 months later. Before it seemed as if a senior player could just meander through a season not doing anything unnoticed but now, if they’re not included in the squad, it’s much more attention-grabbing

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Re: Kevin Keegan - “I came up against a wall of incompetence, deceit & arrogance”

Post by overseasTOON » Mon Sep 24, 2018 4:17 pm

Sounds like this agent favour that I've been waiting 10 years to be reciprocated seems like it's not going to happen?

That's a kick in the balls.

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Re: Kevin Keegan - “I came up against a wall of incompetence, deceit & arrogance”

Post by R&B » Mon Sep 24, 2018 4:45 pm

lassassinblanc wrote:
Mon Sep 24, 2018 2:22 pm
Nor did it say much for the player that Dennis had texted me the wrong name

<laugh> <laugh> <laugh> <laugh>
Apparently the dyslexia about the names is a must if someone want to be Director of football or Executive Director at Newcastle United. Joe and Dennis will confirm that.
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Re: Kevin Keegan - “I came up against a wall of incompetence, deceit & arrogance”

Post by TJR » Mon Sep 24, 2018 5:26 pm

The Deluded Pablo Diego Jose Francisco wrote:
Mon Sep 24, 2018 1:06 pm
More frm NUFC.com
Monday's Times newspaper published a second extract from Kevin Keegan's forthcoming book:

My last job ended in rancour and recriminations and my final game as a manager was a 3–0 defeat at Arsenal in August 2008 that will probably always be remembered for the television cameras picking out Mike Ashley in the away end, where he proceeded to down a pint in roughly the same amount of time it has taken you to read this sentence.

It wasn’t Mike’s beer-guzzling that upset me that day. It was the fact that Tony Jimenez, the executive who had been put in charge of Newcastle’s transfer business, had informed me we were spending £5.7 million on a Spanish player called Xisco whom nobody from the club had ever seen play. On the same day the Xisco bombshell was dropped, I had also found out a Uruguayan by the name of Ignacio González was joining us as a “favour” for two South American agents.

Everything reached a head, trying to prepare for one of the toughest games of the season while also having to deal with the growing knowledge that the people who were supposed to be my colleagues were taking me for a ride.

It was on the morning of the game that Dennis Wise rang to ask me to go online and check out González. Dennis said he had heard great things but admitted he had never actually seen him play. Further enquiries revealed that nobody, in fact, from Newcastle had ever seen this guy kick a ball.

Nor did it say much for the player that Dennis had texted me the wrong name, and my initial search on the internet came up with nothing. I had to go back to Dennis to find out the correct spelling. But I did as he asked.

I logged on again, typed in González’s name and eventually found him. I looked at his background, his age and what he had done in his career, and it didn’t need a great deal of investigation to realise this player would be out of his depth in the higher echelons of the Premier League.

González had gone on loan to Monaco, then a mid-table team in France, earlier in the year and flopped. He made five appearances in six months and didn’t finish 90 minutes once. We were coming to the end of August and he had played fewer than 200 minutes since Christmas. He didn’t speak a word of English and, for the life of me, I couldn’t see any reason why Newcastle might be attracted to him.

When I rang Dennis to explain it was out of the question, he seemed determined to change my mind. González, he said, was a “great player” and our contacts in South America meant we had the chance to get him on a season-long loan. He was adamant we should give him a go and suggested that if I clicked on YouTube I might find some footage to change my opinion.

YouTube? I came from an era when managers chose players on more than a few carefully edited clips on YouTube. I wanted to know a player’s character. I wanted to see how hard he worked, whether he had a good positional sense, what his concentration was like. Those were things you didn’t get from 60 seconds online.

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing from Dennis — an experienced football man — but I did log on to YouTube and eventually found a short video showing González’s career highlights. It looked as if he was playing in a local park in some of the games.

It wasn’t long before my worst suspicions were confirmed and I had a tip-off that González and Xisco had already arrived in England. One was in London, I was told, and the other was in the North East. The two deals were going through, and it didn’t make me feel any better to learn about the amount of money the club intended to throw away in the process.

Xisco alone was costing £5.7 million as well as a salary of £60,000 a week. He was 22, which was a better age than González, but when I checked out his background it was unremarkable stuff again. He had been at Deportivo La Coruña ‘B’, the club’s reserve set-up, and then moved up to the seniors, playing 44 times in three years. It had earned him a call-up to Spain’s under-21s, but it was still absurd to expect him to play in front of 50,000-plus people at St James’ Park.

González had been offered a lower salary, at £26,000 a week, but that still worked out close to £1 million over the season, and a very strange deal had been cooked up whereby he was actually signing for Valencia, a big club with their own network of agents, and within 24 hours we were getting him on loan. What was all that about? It was an unusual arrangement, to say the least, and I didn’t like the look of it one bit.

What I didn’t know was what Mike Ashley made of it. Did he know these deals were being arranged behind my back? Did he care? My head was spinning and I did what I was told I should never do. I took out my phone and rang the owner.

He answered straight away and seemed happy enough to hear from me. “Hi, King Kev.” Mike always called me King Kev, or sometimes he would refer to me as “the most honest man in football”. I think, deep down, he respected the fact I had integrity.

He didn’t seem to know anything about the González loan, but he said — if it would make me feel any happier — he would pay for it out of his own pocket rather than the club’s transfer budget. He didn’t seem to realise why I was so aggrieved, and he certainly didn’t look too concerned when we went into that game against Arsenal and the television cameras picked him out in the away end with a pint of lager in his hand. Twelve seconds was all it needed for the entire pint to disappear down his throat. “Is he in a rush?” the television commentator asked.

We lost 3–0 and when I came home, utterly demoralised, I was already thinking that was it for me. I was sick of them; sick of the way they were riding roughshod over me, sick of being treated like dirt, sick of the attitude where they clearly thought, “Oh, don’t worry about the manager, he’ll come round in the end.” I had had enough. The next day I rang Mike again. “I’m just with someone,” he said, “but I’ll get back to you.” The phone went dead and he never rang back. He did that to me a few times at Newcastle. I waited a full day and then I texted him a message. “The most honest man in football treated like garbage.”

When I spoke to Wise on the telephone that day, it was the first time he explained the real reasons why the González loan was being done. Dennis explained it was a favour for two agents — Paco Casal, a Uruguayan, and Marcelo Lombilla, an Argentinian — who had helped us get (Fabricio) Coloccini and (Jonás) Gutiérrez, and that if we took the hit on this one occasion and agreed to “park” González, they would look upon us favourably in the future.

“You don’t even have to play this guy,” Dennis said. “We want to keep the agent sweet. If you don’t want the player to train with you, you can put him in the academy. And if you don’t like him, we can get rid of him in January.” Mike had been filled in and the owner’s view was that González didn’t even have “to set foot in St James’ Park”.

I thought Dennis was kidding at first. He liked a laugh and I genuinely thought he might be joking. When I realised he was actually being serious, I knew immediately that I couldn’t have anything to do with a deal of that nature. I wanted to save the club from the possibility of being investigated. I wanted to protect the people around me and I wanted to look after my own reputation. I didn’t like the word “parked” and I dreaded to think of the repercussions if what the club were doing reached the newspapers. It would have been a scandal and, as far as I was concerned, it was not one I could defend.

Dennis called it a “favour”. A favour? As favours go, it was going to cost Newcastle a fortune. Both players were going to earn seven-figure salaries, and in Xisco’s case it was upwards of £3 million a year. Casal pocketed €250,000 from Valencia as his slice of the (González) deal. It must have been the easiest money he had ever made and, laughably, González’s loan deal had an option to buy him for £8 million at the end of the season.

Newcastle were not breaking any rules but it looked terrible, and left us open to all sorts of questions. The club weren’t buying these players for orthodox reasons; it was to do a favour for two agents, one of whom was getting a six-figure sum for setting it up. I felt that it was fundamentally wrong at every level and various people were getting rich off the back of it. It turned my blood cold.

I had never been asked to “park” a player in my life and this wasn’t a kid of 15 or 16 we were talking about. This was a man of 26. Maybe Dennis, when he was a manager, would have done it. But I wouldn’t. “I have my pride and my dignity,” I told him. “I do not want to be associated with this deal. It stinks.”

I knew it was over but I wanted an explanation and I asked Dennis if he would have agreed to this kind of “favour” when he was managing Leeds. I told him I could ask the same question to a hundred managers and none would have put up with it. Can you imagine, I asked, what Alex Ferguson’s reaction would have been at Manchester United if two players had been signed behind his back? Or Rafa Benítez at Liverpool? Or any manager worth his salt?

“Juande Ramos at Spurs would do it this way,” he said. “Well, you need to find another Juande Ramos then,” I snapped.

I knew there was no way back for me at Newcastle. Maybe they thought I wouldn’t dare walk away from a £3-million-a-year contract but they obviously didn’t know me very well. They had made my job untenable and, when I officially announced my resignation, via the League Managers’ Association, I wanted to make it clear to the supporters that I had been in office but not in power. After that, I started the long and difficult process of filing a claim for constructive dismissal and preparing to take Newcastle to an independent arbitration panel. Newcastle launched a counter-claim for £2 million, citing a breach of contract.

Every day for two weeks I would walk from my hotel in London to 70 Fleet Street, the offices of the International Dispute Resolution Centre, where the tribunal was heard. I used that walk to clear my head. It was a difficult, gruelling experience and I will never know how Dennis Wise, with absolutely zero shame, could possibly think on the day he was giving evidence that I would want to shake his hand.

In the end, the three-man panel — Philip Havers QC, Lord Pannick QC and Ken Merrett, Manchester United’s assistant club secretary — didn’t need long to realise how lopsided all the evidence was. Their verdict was crushing for Newcastle because what it said, in short, was that the tribunal accepted my interpretation of events rather than the arguments made by the club. I felt vindicated. It was an enormous sense of relief; finally I could get on with my life and start putting it all behind me. But I was sad, too, that it had gone that far and appalled by some of the stuff that had come out.

It was certainly interesting to note the awkward body language as they gave evidence, under oath, and tried to explain the González loan at a time when Newcastle were supposedly trying to change the culture whereby agents had too much influence at St James’ Park and were making extraordinary amounts of money out of the club.

Wise’s argument was that it was not out of the ordinary for these kinds of deals to happen in football, referring to them as “commercials”, and telling a story about his time at Leeds to illustrate his point. According to Dennis, the Leeds chairman, Ken Bates, approached him to suggest they offer a boy of 17 a professional contract. The boy wasn’t good enough to be a footballer but that, plainly, was not the most important detail as far as Leeds were concerned. The boy’s father had a successful business and a lucrative deal had been arranged for that company to sponsor Leeds — on condition they signed the boss’s son.

The boy was never named. Yet Wise made it clear he was happy to go along with this sham. “I said to Ken, ‘He won’t play in the first team, he won’t play in the reserves, is that OK?’ And he said, ‘OK.’ It wasn’t explained to the boy. His dad didn’t tell him. And I didn’t think it was my responsibility either.”

Can you believe it? We all do favours for friends sometimes, or even friends of friends, but there is a big difference between setting up someone with work experience and offering a professional contract when you know it is all a pretence. It was completely wrong. It might be the way Leeds worked back then. It wasn’t the way I wanted Newcastle to be.

Newcastle were ordered to pay me £2 million, plus interest, as well as costs, with the panel condemning the club for “repeatedly and intentionally misleading the press, public and the fans of Newcastle United”, noting how the loan deal for González “cost nearly £1 million in wages for a player who was not expected to play in the first team”.

They had dragged the club’s reputation through the gutter and, when it came to González, I still find it difficult to understand how it didn’t spark an investigation by the football authorities. Let me stress that no rules had been broken, as was made clear in the tribunal, but can you ever remember a deal that looked worse? We were talking about vast sums of money changing hands as a so-called favour. Not once did anyone from the FA seem to think, “Hang on, what the hell was all that about?”

Xisco made nine league appearances for Newcastle in four-and-a-half years and scored once in all that time. He was loaned to Racing Santander and Deportivo La Coruña once Newcastle had cottoned on that he wasn’t good enough. His contract was terminated in January 2013 and the Newcastle Evening Chronicle named him as one of the worst centre forwards in the club’s history.

Ignacio González? He made two substitute appearances for Newcastle, totalling 38 minutes, before getting injured and was never picked again. Newcastle decided not to take the £8 million option to turn his season-long loan into a permanent transfer and he went back to Valencia, who didn’t want him either. The next stage of his career was on loan at Levadiakos of Greece, where he made 14 appearances, and he eventually joined Standard Liège on a free transfer.

Valencia didn’t use him once and, unless I am missing something, how precisely did Newcastle benefit from that “favour” with the two South American agents? Joe Kinnear took over from me as manager. Newcastle were relegated at the end of that season and more than a hundred honest, hard-working people lost their jobs. All those lives irrevocably changed for the sake of some South American backscratching.
Its just f***ing disgusting...
It's genuinely amazing how incompetent Ashley is. Dennis Wise is a snidey little cronut as well the f***ing vile odious sweetheart.

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Re: Kevin Keegan - “I came up against a wall of incompetence, deceit & arrogance”

Post by CIH » Mon Sep 24, 2018 5:48 pm

Keegan wrote:“You don’t even have to play this guy,” Dennis said. “We want to keep the agent sweet. If you don’t want the player to train with you, you can put him in the academy. And if you don’t like him, we can get rid of him in January.” Mike had been filled in and the owner’s view was that González didn’t even have “to set foot in St James’ Park”.
This part in particular sounds eerily familiar to the Facundo Ferreyra deal. Did he ever even make the bench? I also seem to remember that he was signed on Colocinni's recommendation or something.

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Re: Kevin Keegan - “I came up against a wall of incompetence, deceit & arrogance”

Post by TJR » Mon Sep 24, 2018 6:07 pm

Caulkins take is spot on and well put as always.
George Caulkin wrote:On Friday lunchtime, Rafa Benítez was asked about his contract at Newcastle United. The manager — one of the best of his generation — is in the final year of his employment at St James’ Park and the uncertainty about his position is a source of anguish. “My view was very clear at the beginning when I decided to stay here: potential, project, to compete in the top ten,” Benítez said. “That is not the case now.”

When we read Kevin Keegan’s account of his second, distressing managerial spell at Newcastle — beautifully knitted together by Daniel Taylor, the journalist — we are not simply revisiting the dysfunction that gripped the club ten years ago. We are reminded that dysfunction has never left them, that Mike Ashley’s ownership remains baffling and illogical and frequently toxic.

Publication is timely. It comes at a moment when Newcastle fans are once again coalescing behind protests, moved by the restrictions placed around Benítez in terms of team strengthening and club-building and when there has been a public kick-back by Ashley’s allies. Dennis Wise, who is one of them, features prominently (and disastrously) in Keegan’s story, something worth recalling when he smirks on Sky and BeIN Sports.

Nothing changes; Newcastle is now a stripped-down club following the two relegations on Ashley’s watch, but the sportswear retailer never learns. After Wise and Tony Jimenez came Joe Kinnear (twice), executives and managers way out of their depth, and the most recent incarnation has been Justin Barnes, an Ashley fixer who has taken a prominent, undefined role at the club.

Ashley’s inability to entrust such a valuable asset to serious people is one of his greatest failings, a reliance on cronies and old mates. Or, to put it differently, he can recognise that appointing Keegan, Benítez or Alan Shearer will carry resonance with fans but he cannot make the next leap of imagination, to feed Tyneside’s furnace.

When they hired Benítez, did they read his CV, see the Champions League title with Liverpool, other cups and trophies and think, “Let’s have a bit of that”, or was it about placating fans and bringing in a virtual guarantee of Premier League status? It feels like the latter. As Keegan writes, he was “sick of the attitude where they clearly thought, ‘Oh, don’t worry about the manager, he’ll come round in the end.’ I had had enough.” As things stand, Benítez has too.

If you love Newcastle, if you revel in the memories of Keegan’s early years there, the adventurous football, the manager’s ambition, how can you not feel shame and sorrow when he talks of an effective ban from the club he did so much to build? There should be a statue of him at St James’, a stand named in his honour. He should be lifetime president.
https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/newc ... -9k238tgbx

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Re: Kevin Keegan - “I came up against a wall of incompetence, deceit & arrogance”

Post by Bodacious Benny » Mon Sep 24, 2018 6:45 pm

This page takes a lot of scrolling <laugh>
I'm the scumbag outlaw. You're the pillar of justice. Neither of us like looking at ourselves in the mirror. Do we have a deal?

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Re: Kevin Keegan - “I came up against a wall of incompetence, deceit & arrogance”

Post by originallad » Thu Sep 27, 2018 6:41 am


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Re: Kevin Keegan - “I came up against a wall of incompetence, deceit & arrogance”

Post by Sir Bobby » Thu Sep 27, 2018 6:55 am

originallad wrote:
Thu Sep 27, 2018 6:41 am
https://www.shieldsgazette.com/sport/fo ... -1-9367996

Tony Jimenez's take on things.
That smells of absolute horse s**** to me. I mean what is he even on about?! ‘We let Woodgate to Spurs on the basis we’d sign Modric’... we sold Woodgate to Madrid who then sold him to Boro before he signed for Spurs. It just seems like he’s making it up on the spot. Also what mental incestuous relationship did these guys have with Spurs where we’d agree not to sign a player they wanted and vice versa? They’re not our f***ing B team for fucks sake

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