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Thursday, February 18, 1999 Published at 07:01 GMT


Keegan: What the papers say

Kevin Keegan's decision to take on the mantle of England coach for only four matches was greeted with amazement by British newspapers.

David Davies, executive director of the Football Association (FA) had the delicate task of breaking the news to the nation.

But the nation, or at least its football correspondents, were deeply disappointed.

"What we had wanted from Keegan, above all, was his passion, the unfettered, watery-eyed commitment he brings to everything," writes Oliver Holt of The Times.

[ image: Keegan won  63 caps for England, scoring 21 goals]
Keegan won 63 caps for England, scoring 21 goals
"But this is not passion. Passion does not have a four-match limit, patriotism is not measured in snatched four-day stints."

Warming to his theme, Mr Holt describes the relationship between Keegan and the FA as a "marriage of convenience that is hardly given a chance to blossom".

Romance also appears to be in the air for The Sun, whose headline screams Keegan breaks all our hearts again!

It describes Keegan as "the nation's favourite" but adds he will have great difficulty in managing England part-time.

"He is effervescent, passionate and can rally the troops," says Mr Robson.

But, speaking from eight years' experience on the job, he advises the Fulham boss to do it full-time if he is to be effective.

FA in "limbo"

But Keegan said he was "absolutely delighted" to take on the role, and was fully prepared to fit it in with managing Fulham.

The Daily Telegraph focuses more on the FA's decision to accept Keegan's terms, which it says "smacks of desperation".

"The nation must have gasped in dismay and disbelief," writes Henry Winter, who described the FA as being in "limbo".

But the Telegraph's Mihir Bose implies that Keegan's reasons for shocking the nation are financial.

"Keegan stands to make up to £15m at Craven Cottage if he sees out his contract to June 2000," he writes.

[ image: Mohamed Al Fayed:
Mohamed Al Fayed: "How about my passport?"
"Mohamed Fayed, the majority owner of Fulham, has promised Keegan five per cent of the club should it be sold or floated on the stock market.

"At Fulham, Keegan has total control, is building a great future and has a wonderful rapport with the boss.

"With England he's answerable to a 92-man council where the average age is 75. Keegan is a shrewd man."

The Mirror carries an exclusive interview with Mr Al Fayed. It says that after "freeing" Keegan, he "joked: 'Now can I have my British passport?'"

Mr Al Fayed says in the article: "If we win all four games and the nation wants him to continue, then we will see what happens. It's all up in the air."

The Express is blunt, headlining the story with What a farce! and describing the "FA fiasco" as a "massive blow".

It says Keegan has secured an "amazing victory", but adds there is deep disappointment behind the scenes of the FA.

'Ultimate fantasy'

The Daily Mail sees Keegan as having out-manoevred the FA. It says he "engineered the ultimate managerial fantasy" and backed a "red-faced FA" into a corner.

Nigel Clarke throws scorn on the footballing body, and writes: "By throwing themselves prostrate at Keegan's feet ... the members of the International Committee undermined any credibility they had stockpiled over the past eight days."

The speculation may calm down when Keegan makes a full statement at a press conference on Thursday.

But it will be a long time before the matter is settled, and the press frenzy over who will manage England is just beginning.

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