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Last Updated: Thursday, 17 January 2008, 18:03 GMT
Keegan wants Newcastle patience
Kevin Keegan at Newcastle's training ground on Thursday
Keegan spent much of Thursday at Newcastle's training ground
Newcastle manager Kevin Keegan says he will need time to turn the club's fortunes around but is eager to fulfil the dreams of the Geordie faithful.

The 56-year-old was named as the new boss at St James' Park on Wednesday, 11 years after quitting the club.

"I know what the fans want. As long as they are realistic and patient, we can try to help them have dreams and possibly win something," he said.

"There is some unfinished business here. I think this is right."

The news that Keegan would be returning to St James' Park on a three-and-a-half year deal stunned the football world when it was announced on Wednesday afternoon.

Keegan started work at the club's training ground on Thursday morning and says he is relishing the prospect of taking on the job for a second time.

This is my third time around and I'm delighted to be back

Kevin Keegan

"I am just as excited this time as I was when I came to play here at 31 and when I came as a manager at 43 or 44," he added.

"I have certainly inherited a strong, talented group of players - which is something I didn't have when I came last time.

"When I came last time we were wondering whether we could fill the stadium. That is not a problem.

"They will be trying to get a stadium big enough if we can put some football on and get some success here. The job in hand is a big job, it is a great club."

Keegan, who will be officially unveiled at a press conference on Friday, has to make a decision about the make-up of his backroom team, with Newcastle legend Alan Shearer touted as a possible assistant.

Shearer has remained diplomactic over speculation that he could be asked to help the new Keegan regime.

"I haven't had anything to consider, to be honest, " Shearer told BBC1's Look North programme.

"I don't know whether Kevin wants me as his number two, and I don't know whether I want to be a number two."

Shearer told BBC Radio 5 Live on Thursday: "I don't know whether, one, he wants a number two, or two, I would like to be one. If he were to call then obviously I would be foolish not to speak to him."


BBC Sport understands that Keegan held one brief meeting with both players and staff at the club's Darsley Park training ground on Thursday in which he reassured them there would be no immediate changes.

He told the group to carry on as normal while he analyses what is at his disposal, and that everyone starts with a clean slate.

The news of Keegan's return sparked mass celebrations on Tyneside with 20,000 tickets sold in two hours for Wednesday's FA Cup replay with Stoke.

Keegan, who coached Newcastle in the 1990s and played for them in the '80s, was at the replay and was given a rapturous reception as he took to his seat in the directors' box.

"This is my third time around and I'm delighted to be back," he said.

League finishes: 3rd (93-94), 6th (94-95), 2nd (95-96), 2nd (96-97)
Games won: 78
Games lost: 35
Games drawn: 30
Win record: 55%

The installation of Keegan is the first managerial appointment made by billionaire owner Mike Ashley, who took over the club last summer.

And Keegan admitted that the decision to return "was a very easy one".

"I wouldn't say it was a big decision," he said. "I love this football club and I don't think anyone would ever doubt that.

"I have met Mike Ashley, and I like him very much. I also met the chairman, Chris Mort, and just talking to them, I felt they both knew what they are doing.

"I spent an hour with Mike and that convinced me it is right to come back to help him in what he is doing with Newcastle United and what he wants from the football club."

Keegan will need to act quickly if he is to use Ashley's cash before the transfer window closes at the end of the month and add to a squad that are currently 11th in the Premier League table.

The new Newcastle boss will also have to consider the future of record signing Michael Owen, who criticised Keegan when he was England manager.

Owen, who has had a frustrating time with injury since joining Newcastle in August 2005, said that playing under Keegan was a "dark phase in my career" in his 2004 autobiography "Off the Record".

But Shearer believes there will be no problem with Owen playing under Keegan, saying: "They'll get over that."

Kevin Keegan
Keegan will give a news conference on Friday

After a distinguished time as a player at the club between 1982-84, Keegan returned to the club as a manager in 1992, taking them back to the top flight in his first season.

Following the capture of some high-profile signings, Keegan's swashbuckling side became the great entertainers and with it, the former Liverpool and England forward was etched on the hearts of the Magpies faithful.

In 1995/96, Newcastle came close to winning the league title but blew a 12-point lead and finished runners-up to Manchester United.

Since his departure in 1997, Keegan's legacy has hung over the club with subsequent managers struggling to match both his style and success.

And his approach contrasts with his predecessor Sam Allardyce, who was sacked on 9 January after just eight months in charge.

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