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Page last updated at 14:26 GMT, Friday, 5 September 2008 15:26 UK

Ashley set for Newcastle backlash

Ashley in under pressure as Newcastle owner
Ashley is under pressure as Newcastle owner

Newcastle owner Mike Ashley faces a testing week following the resignation of manager Kevin Keegan.

Many fans have already called for Ashley to quit the club after blaming him and executive director Dennis Wise for Keegan's departure on Thursday.

Former Newcastle coach Mark Lawrenson even believes that there could be a players' revolt.

"They could say to the owner that they do not like the way the club is run and want to leave," he told BBC Sport.

Rumours of a major rift between the club's directors and Keegan surfaced during transfer deadline day on Monday.

The 57-year-old, who was already unhappy over the 12m sale of James Milner to Aston Villa, was understood to be furious to discover members of his already slim squad had been offered for sale during the final hours before the window closed.

BBC Sport's Simon Austin
And despite the club stating that key striker Michael Owen had been offered a new three-year extension to his current deal, there were stories this week suggesting that the 28-year-old was offered to Tottenham and Everton.

"It will be particularly interesting to see Owen's reaction to Keegan's departure," added Lawrenson, who was defensive coach during Keegan's first spell in charge.

"He may choose not to sign a new contract and just sit and wait until he becomes a free agent."

Talks were held on Monday between Keegan and the club's board before the manager was summoned again by Newcastle chiefs on Tuesday.

Following that meeting, it was widely reported that Keegan and the club had parted company, but it was not until Thursday that the former Magpies player declared he would no longer take charge of the team.

Protests outside St James' Park calling for Ashley and Wise to quit have been ongoing since Tuesday, with the owner now facing the difficult prospect of appeasing the fans, who are contemplating boycotting the next match against Hull.

Report: Keegan resigns as Magpies boss

Former player Alan Shearer, who has inevitably been linked with the vacant manager's job but appears to have ruled himself out of contention, said the management structure at St James' Park was not conducive to success.

"The best system is at Manchester United," he told BBC Sport's Football Focus. "I can imagine what Sir Alex Ferguson's reaction would be if he was presented with a player he didn't want. He wouldn't stand for it.

"The fans have the right to vent their frustration. [But] I don't think there will be a shortage of people who want the manager's job.

"It will be very difficult for Mike Ashley to go into St James' Park and not get a reaction.

"I feel very sorry for Kevin Keegan because I think he was doing a very good job."

Northern Echo chief sports writer Scott Wilson told BBC Radio 5 Live that, during previous owner Freddy Shepherd's reign, there were two or three attempts to initiate a boycott.

"But it fell down," he said. "The reason that happened was when push came to shove, supporters pulled together and said that even though they didn't like what was going on, they supported the club and not the people who ran it.

"They also thought that people down south were laughing at them, and going ahead with the boycott would make things worse.

"However, it will be interesting to see whether they abandon that principle for the Hull fixture."

BBC Radio Newcastle football commentator Mick Lowes said that he did not expect Ashley or Wise to appear at the home game, a week on Saturday.

"In all my time up here, I've never seen anger on the level I've witnessed in the last three days," he said.

"Ashley and the other directors must have known what sort of backlash there would be. I think there are one or two of people in senior positions who will find it hard to continue in their roles.

"It will be difficult for Ashley to take his place in the stands for the Hull match and I don't think Wise will be seen at the club."

see also
Newcastle begin hunt for new boss
05 Sep 08 |  Newcastle
Keegan resigns as Newcastle boss
04 Sep 08 |  Newcastle
Reaction to Keegan's resignation
04 Sep 08 |  Newcastle
Fans' fury at Keegan exit
04 Sep 08 |  Newcastle
Keegan's coaching career in photos
02 Sep 08 |  Football
Newcastle sign Gonzalez on loan
01 Sep 08 |  Newcastle
Magpies sign Depor striker Xisco
01 Sep 08 |  Newcastle
Magpies offer Owen improved deal
31 Aug 08 |  Newcastle
Aston Villa seal Milner transfer
29 Aug 08 |  Aston Villa
Magpies hold 'good' Keegan talks
09 May 08 |  Premier League
Keegan returns as Newcastle boss
16 Jan 08 |  Newcastle

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