Keegan makes Newcastle return

Kevin Keegan has made a dramatic return to Newcastle United after being appointed as the Premier League club's new manager on Wednesday. The former Fulham, Manchester City and England boss, who managed the Magpies from 1992 to 1997, will return to St James' Park as Sam Allardyce's successor.

"Kevin Keegan is returning to Newcastle United as manager," a statement read on the club's official website, which also proclaimed: "Geordie messiah Keegan to be unveiled as United manager."

Portsmouth gaffer Harry Redknapp was the favourite to take over from Allardyce, but he turned down the position. Focus switched to Gerard Houllier and Didier Deschamps, although Keegan, 56, refused to rule himself out of the running. "It's a club I love. Everybody knows that," he said last week.

Keegan's love affair with Newcastle began when he joined them as a player in 1982. Following a prolific spell in the black-and-white stripes he made an emotional farewell on the final day of the 1983/84 season, leaving the pitch on a helicopter after helping the club gain promotion to the top flight.

Returning as manager in February 1992, with the Tyneside outfit flirting with relegation into the third tier of English football, he led them to safety and then into the Premier League the following campaign.

Under Keegan's reign, Newcastle wooed the neutrals with their free-flowing football, aided by the talents of Peter Beadsley, Rob Lee, Andy Cole, David Ginola, Les Ferdinand, Faustino Asprilla and Alan Shearer, whom Keegan had signed for a then world record £15 million.

They narrowly missed out on the Premier League title in the 1995/96 season, famously blowing a 12-point lead to finish runners-up to Manchester United.

Keegan handed in his resignation in January 1997, little over a week after Newcastle has overwhelmed Tottenham Hotspur 7-1 at St James' Park.

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Given his popularity on Tyneside, the news is expected to go down well among Newcastle United's vast following. The team are without a win in six matches and television pundit Warren Barton, who played under Keegan for the Magpies, believes his former gaffer will help turn the tide.

"It's a season to remember already - he's come back," Barton exclaimed. "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. 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."

Bobby Moncur, who played for Newcastle in the 1960s and 1970s, added: "I'm delighted he's coming back because we need a big man - someone to lift the whole place. Kevin is the man to do just that.

"He was the Messiah when he came here. They were everyone's second-best loved team with the football they played."

Whether Keegan can work his magic on Newcastle for a second time remains to be seen, but it is certain to be an eventful ride.