I’d Love It! When Kevin Keegan Lost His Cool On This Day In 1996

It's been 25 years since Keegan's infamous rant towards Sir Alex Ferguson and Manchester United
10:00, 29 Apr 2021

On April 29, 1996, Keegan's Newcastle won 1-0 against Leeds, a victory which closed the gap between them and Manchester United to just three points with a game in hand and two to play; but what followed after the game would become one of the most memorable moments in Premier League history which is still talked about today.

A goal from Keith Gillespie's had given the Magpies their third victory on the trot and set up a grandstand finish to the season which had seen Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United chase down Keegan’s side who had at one stage held a 12 lead at the top of the table.

However, all the talk of a final day showdown was quickly overshadowed when Newcastle boss Kevin Keegan emerged from the changing rooms to talk to Sky Sports hosts Richard Keys and Andy Gray back in their London studio as three minutes of TV gold unfolded in front of a gripped nation.

Prior to the game United manager Alex Ferguson had suggested that the likes of Nottingham Forest and Leeds might not try as hard against Newcastle as they had against his side in that title run-in and with Keegan’s men still to travel to Nottingham Forest in a few days.

"I can't understand the Leeds players," Ferguson said after his side had battled to a 1-0 against them just days earlier. "I'm absolutely in support of their manager. He doesn't deserve his players. If they had played like that all season, they'd be near the top. They raised their game because they were playing Manchester United. It was pathetic.”

Obviously wound-up by Ferguson’s mind games and the accusation that teams were going easy against his side Keegan reacted furiously and chose to make his feelings known in front of an audience of millions in the tunnel that night.

"When you do that with footballers like he said about Leeds - and when you do things like that about a man like Stuart Pearce...” Keegan fumed.

"I've kept really quiet but I'll tell you something, he went down in my estimations when he said that. We have not resorted to that. You can tell him now, we're still fighting for this title and he's got to go to Middlesbrough and get something - and I'll tell you, honestly, I will love it if we beat them. Love it!”

To make matters worse for Keegan, Newcastle travelled to the City Ground three days later but could only manage a draw with Forest as Ian Woan’s second-half strike cancelled out Peter Beardsley’s opener, meaning the destiny of that season’s league title was now out of their hands.

It meant that going into the final day of that most intriguing of seasons the team which were to become known as 'The Entertainers' needed to beat Tottenham while hoping that their north-east rivals Middlesbrough could do them a favour and get a result in their home game with Manchester United.

But it was too much to ask. United completed a relatively routine 3-0 win at the Riverside while Keegan’s men somewhat fluffed their lines with a 1-1 home draw to Spurs ensuring that the Premier League trophy would be heading to Old Trafford for the third time in four seasons.

The 1995/96 season was one of the greatest in living memory. A contest which had seen Newcastle storm out of the traps and build a seemingly unassailable lead by the New Year only for Alex Ferguson’s United to embark on a stunning run to haul them in; eventually culminating in an epic collapse by the Magpies.

Even so, ask most people what they recall of that dramatic campaign and many will give the same answer: “I’d love it if we beat them, LOVE IT!”

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