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Wednesday, January 16, 2008
Barton hails return of King Kev

Former Newcastle defender Warren Barton believes the return of Kevin Keegan makes 2007-08 'a season to remember'.

Keegan was confirmed as the Magpies' new manager this afternoon, returning to the club he managed from 1992 to 1997.

The Magpies languish in the bottom half of the Barclays Premier League table, just six points above the relegation zone.

But Barton said: 'It's a season to remember already - he's come back.

'A UEFA Cup spot is a possibility. If I was in the dressing room and he walked in, that would give me a lift.

'The players have got to respond - there is quality in that team.'

The right-back, who joined the Magpies from Wimbledon, continued on Sky Sports News 'Since Sir Bobby Robson, the managers haven't realised what the club is about.

'But Kevin will know what it means - he'll have learnt from his time at England, Fulham and Manchester City and it's fantastic news for the club.

'The players will love playing for him as we all did - it's just what (owner) Mike Ashley and (chairman) Chris Mort and everyone at Newcastle needed. It's great for the club.'

Barton continued: 'He'll bring enthusiasm and desire, he knew what the area needed and what the fans expected.

'You'd listen to his team talk and he could motivate people. People will say he's not been in the game for a few years but he's got a big personality and enthusiasm and he knows the game - that's his strongest point.

Newcastle had a 12-point lead at the top of the Premier League in 1996 but were overhauled by Manchester United, with critics blaming Keegan's brand of attacking football for the failure to land the title.

And Barton explained on Sky Sports News: 'People work hard and want to be entertained and he'll give the fans a great lift, although I hope he might be more tactically aware.

'He may have got older and greater but he's still got great style and charisma about him.

'He might play 4-4-2 and get some service for Michael Owen and Mark Viduka - but he'll give the players a great lift.

'His man-management is a key point. He knows the area, will speak to the fans and the people up there and lift the whole club.

'There is enough quality in that squad - he just has to get the best out of the players.

'He needs to add and he will - he got Philippe Albert and David Ginola from nowhere.'

Former England winger Chris Waddle believes the return of Keegan will allow United to once again compete for some of the game's best talent.

Waddle, who was a youngster at Newcastle when Keegan ended his playing days at St James' Park, insists the former Liverpool forward has more than enough attributes to make up for a lack of tactical astuteness.

'He's got to put some confidence in the team. He's a very positive fellow and that's one of his strengths as a manager - let's be honest, I don't think you thought about his teams as tactically solid,' he told BBC Radio Newcastle.

'But he signed good players and he's a name who attracts players, and I think that is a big part of football today.

'Players look at wages but they like to play for a manager who has got a lot of passion, a lot of desire, and Kevin Keegan is a very big name in the world of football.

'He's got to the end of the month to get some players in, I'm sure there will be a lot of activity.'

Far from being a hindrance, Waddle believes Keegan's time away from the game could prove a blessing.

'Everyone thought he would call it a day and that was probably the end of it, but if there's any club where his loyalties lie (it is Newcastle),' he added.

'He's got terrific backing here with the supporters who've always loved him, and it's brought him out of retirement.

'Hopefully his batteries will be recharged and he's got a lot of work to be done.'

Meanwhile, Newcastle midfielder Joey Barton appeared in court today over allegations of assault and affray.

Barton was arrested in the early hours of December 27, after a Boxing Day evening out with friends and family.

The 25-year-old has not issued a plea to charges of affray and assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

Barton's brother, Andrew Barton, 19, from Widnes, has also been charged with actual bodily harm after he, Barton and Nadine Wilson, 27, from Huyton, were arrested after visiting a McDonald's restaurant in Liverpool City Centre on December 27.

A charge of affray against Andrew Barton was today dropped when the three appeared at Liverpool Magistrates' Court.

All three have been bailed and will reappear before magistrates in Liverpool on March 12.

In homage to King Kev, and his appointment at the Toon, ESPN Classic are showing a cracking documentary about him tomorrow evening at 2100 on ESPN Classic, SKY channel 442.

Kevin Keegan - footballer, singer, and messiah - has gone from playing 4th division football with Scunthorpe United to winning European footballer of the year. He's gone from managing Newcastle United in the 2nd division, to almost winning the Premiership, to being crowned England manager. This is Keegan's story: Kevin Keegan: Football Messiah?

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