Legendary Newcastle United Manager Kevin Keegan Accuses Manchester United Of Tapping Up Striker
Their rivalry needs no introduction; to say the two most successful teams in England detest one another is an understatement.
With 39 league titles, 19 FA Cups, and eight top European trophies between them, the mutual resentment is one of the elements that keeps the Premier League thriving.
Hatred embodies the relationship between Manchester United and Liverpool. So ultimately welcome to add fuel to fire is the emergence of one of the Merseyside club’s own firing scathing accusations of reported ‘tapping up’ of a certain player by the Red Devils.
The legendary Kevin Keegan, the only Englishman to ever win the Ballon d’Or twice as player, is as beloved both in certain parts of the North-West, and the North-East.
A fantastic player for the Reds in the ‘70s and an instigator of ‘the beautiful game’ during a remarkable five year-period as manager of Newcastle United that took them almost to the top of the precipice of the English league, Keegan’s is a voice that still demands to be heard.
His autobiography My Life In Football, released this month, has provided some startling insight into the competition and animosity shared between him and Sir Alex Ferguson in the mid-90s when their two teams of Newcastle and Manchester United, respectively, were battling in out for the league title.
Though his name still rings out around St. James Park, one of the criticisms levelled at Keegan during his tenure was the decision to sell star striker Andy Cole, but ‘King Kev’ has responded in startling fashion in his own personal account of the saga;
‘Why did I sell Andy Cole? What was it that persuaded me that Newcastle would be better off in the long run without the player who had been the focal point of attack? And why them? Why, of all clubs, Manchester United?’
Andy Cole had been in simply scintillating form for the Geordies, and as Keegan acknowledges had an astonishing strike rate of 81%, scoring 68 times in 84 matches, bettered only by Hughie Gallacher at 82% (143 goals in 174 matches between 1925 - 1930). Keegan continues;
‘Well I’ve never said it before, but I suspect Andy might have been ‘tapped up’ anyway. I would never expect him to admit as much; it’s not something anybody from Old Trafford would ever confess…
‘My firm suspicion is that someone turned his head…
‘If I am mistaken it leave several unanswered questions about why he had stopped training properly and become so detached and unresponsive.”
And with that, Andy Cole broke the English transfer record by sealing a £7million move (plus Keith Gillespie) to go to Old Trafford, whilst Keegan suffered an almighty backlash from outraged Toon fans.
Certainly strong words from Keegan that is sure to take more than a few football fans aback, as well as stir and revitalise the antagonism shared between Newcastle United and Liverpool, and 13-time Premier League champions Manchester United.
Whilst Keegan’s reign at Newcastle remained trophy-less at the highest level, striker Andy Cole would go on to claim five Premier League titles and be part of that Manchester United who achieved the as yet unsurpassed Treble of ’99. He also remains the leading goalscorer in the fixture between the pair, with seven goals- six of them for Manchester United.