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Rafa's revealing response to Keegan question.

Byline: CHRIS WAUGH NUFC Writer

"HE was really good as a player and really good as a manager. I hope I can do as well as him here."

Rafa Benitez's appraisal of Kevin Keegan will certainly resonate with Newcastle United fans, many of who will draw their happiest memories of their football club from the 'Entertainers' era, while Magpies supporters share the Spaniard's hope that he is one day given the opportunity to lead them back to such halcyon heights.

Yet what was far more informative about this statement was what Benitez did not say.

For this was not an answer to a soft question about Keegan's return to Tyneside for a talk-in at The Sage next week.

Rather, Benitez was asked for his opinion on the explosive early revelations from Keegan's soon-to-bereleased autobiography. Yes, there are fascinating insights into the Entertainers and Keegan's memorable spell as a player in the famous black-and-white shirt in the book, too, but it is the former Newcastle manager's damning account of how the club operates under owner Mike Ashley which has proven to be particularly pertinent. Remember, it was less than two months ago when Benitez declared that "everything is wrong" at Newcastle.

Even last week the Spaniard stressed the club needed to do things in a "different way" in the future if they are to ever harbour any genuine hopes of being successful.

Benitez has so far refused to sign a new contract at St James' Park, despite being well into the final year of his current dea, and the parallels between Keegan's acrimonious exit a decade ago and the situation unfolding concerning the Spaniard's future this time appear striking.

Intriguingly, Benitez is open to the possibility of meeting Keegan next weekb - the Spaniard will not necessarily extend an invitation to Keegan but stresses he will be "around" if the former Magpies manager did want to talk. What fascinating tales the pair could share about this dysfunctional football club and also about Ashley - an owner whose regime has careered from one disastrous decision to another from the moment he appointed Keegan more than a decade ago.

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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Sep 29, 2018
Words:354
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