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Last Updated: Wednesday, 14 January, 2004, 11:48 GMT
Keegan splashes on old spice
BY Phil McNulty
Chief football writer

James rejoins his old Kop pals

Kevin Keegan was famous for advertising a brand of after-shave during his playing days - now he is applying a touch of "old spice" to freshen up Manchester City.

And he has done it by signing England goalkeeper David James to complete a trio of one-time members of Liverpool's "Spice Boys" to arrive in Manchester.

James was at the forefront of a gang of gifted but erratic Liverpool players who became better known for their appearance and love of a good time than collecting silverware.

And when James gets to the City of Manchester Stadium, he will find two other England internationals who paid their membership in full, Robbie Fowler and Steve McManaman.

There seemed to be more chance of the Spice Girls re-uniting than this old Liverpool gang, but Keegan's hopes of survival will now rely heavily on the trio.

Indeed, already doing the rounds on Merseyside is that Keegan's next move will be to tempt another leading light in the clan, Neil Ruddock, out of retirement to literally beef up City's porous defence.

And there may be one or two ironic smiles around Anfield at the sight of Keegan placing his faith, and perhaps his future, in these rather unpredictable talents.

They all played in a Liverpool team that promised much more than they delivered, mixing occasional brilliance with too many failures.

Do you want a wafer with it? "The Spice Boys" meet Man Utd

One such occasion was the 1996 FA Cup Final against Manchester United - a game still designed to raise the hackles of any Liverpool fan reared on deeds of glory and the blood, sweat and tears of a bygone era.

Liverpool invited the scorn of a nation by indulging in a pre-match parade highlighted by garish cream Armani suits, a variety of mobile phones and assorted designer sunglasses - despite the absence of anything resembling the sun.

United looked businesslike in dark suits while Liverpool resembled a collection of ice-cream men on an outing - and proceeded to play like them in a dismal 1-0 defeat.

It was the "Spice Boys" personified, and drew resounding criticism from their own supporters and beyond.

And James once showed his failure to grasp the scale of Merseyside rivalry with Everton by having his hair dyed blue on a pre-season visit to Oslo.

Now times have changed for the trio - and there is little glamorous about the mission that awaits them at Manchester City.

James will hope he meets with greater success than his former Anfield colleagues, who have found much of the gloss has been removed from their flamboyant youngers days at Liverpool.

Will Ruddock be next for City?

Fowler is only just showing signs of form after recent years ravaged by injury, while McManaman's signing from Real Madrid has so far proved a non-event.

James at least has a serious item on his agenda - namely producing the form that ensures he remains England's number one at Euro 2004.

He will benefit from playing Premiership football and putting himself back in the spotlight in the top-flight under the more regular gaze of England coach Sven-Goran Eriksson.

The signs are that he will get plenty of practice behind a Manchester City defence that leaks like a sieve.

Keegan, on the other hand, will hope the re-united "Old Spice" will enable him to enjoy the sweet smell of victory once more.

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