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28 minutes ago, David Kelly said:

The success of our defence when we won the league led to the change of rules for offside.  I remember reading the birthdays on .com where they've spoken about one or two of our players being particularly responsible.  Bill McCracken being one of them.

 

Ahh, that could have been it. 

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27 minutes ago, Alex said:

That rings a bell actually, although I think it was a more general lack of goals across the league(s) as a whole over a few seasons in the inter-war period. Still think the goals per game ratios were higher than now like.

Incidentally, I have absolutely no recollection of a player named John Waton for us. (Sub in the Anglo-Italian Cup game in the pic above). Had to check it wasn't a mistake but Steve Watson's in the starting XI.

McCracken's wiki page mentions that he held largely responsible for the change in rules.  I can only assume that's right.  I might be mistaking linking it to a league title for us but he was definitely playing for us when we were winning the league.

 

Aye I remember John Watson.  I've got a feeling Steve Watson's brother is also called John so I seem to remember there was a lot of assumptions at the time that they were brothers.  I think he was from Wallsend too.

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22 minutes ago, David Kelly said:

McCracken's wiki page mentions that he held largely responsible for the change in rules.  I can only assume that's right.  I might be mistaking linking it to a league title for us but he was definitely playing for us when we were winning the league.

 

Aye I remember John Watson.  I've got a feeling Steve Watson's brother is also called John so I seem to remember there was a lot of assumptions at the time that they were brothers.  I think he was from Wallsend too.

Interesting. Wilson probably glosses over it due to his being a mackem ;) It's funny how something like that can be counter-productive, i.e. defenses having to become more organised as a result. Also odd that a change based on a specific domestic issue back then would have led to a rule change that was adopted almost without question world wide.

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21 minutes ago, David Kelly said:

How many other leagues were actually going then?  Were we pretty much the centre of the professional (or organised football) world back then?

We thought we were. Think they were established on the continent and in places like Uruguay and Argentina. Them and the likes of Italy and Austria had probably already surpassed us. Plus, you're only talking about 5 years or so until the first World Cup (1930).

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6 minutes ago, Alex said:

We thought we were. Think they were established on the continent and in places like Uruguay and Argentina. Them and the likes of Italy and Austria had probably already surpassed us. Plus, you're only talking about 5 years or so until the first World Cup (1930).

Was it that late when the change was made?  I assumed it was in the first decade of the last century.  Checking McCracken's wiki page he played for us from 1904 - 1924 but it doesn't say when it was that his play effected the change.

Edit:  Just checked it was 1925.

Edited by David Kelly

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1 minute ago, David Kelly said:

Was it that late when the change was made?  I assumed it was in the first decade of the last century.  Checking McCracken's wiki page he played for us from 1904 - 1924 but it doesn't say when it was that his play effected the change.

Just looked it up and it was 1925.

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Was meant to be McCracken who was one of the back line of who perfected the art of the offside in NUFC's most successful period. When the change to the offside rule eventually came in the goals flowed at first but one team apparently managed to buck the trend and keep the scores right down. I think, IIRC, it was Bradford, newly managed or coached by veteran ex-Newcastle United defender......Billy McCracken. :)

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9 hours ago, Howmanheyman said:

Was meant to be McCracken who was one of the back line of who perfected the art of the offside in NUFC's most successful period. When the change to the offside rule eventually came in the goals flowed at first but one team apparently managed to buck the trend and keep the scores right down. I think, IIRC, it was Bradford, newly managed or coached by veteran ex-Newcastle United defender......Billy McCracken. :)

 

Be better if his name was Phil.

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5 hours ago, TheGingerQuiff said:

Let us know what he says bout Ashley mate 

Ashley's a 24 carat  bastard anything else you need to know ?

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Yesterday when the match was on i was feeling fucked, a virus i've had. Anyway, slumped on my sofa, stumbled across the sky sports channels and there was a long interview of steve harmison interviewing special K. Nothing new in this, but couldnt help thinking but for a very few different chances (3/3/1996 in particular) things could have been so diifferent. Keegan was sanguine in this observation, personally i stil feel gutted and angry. Because now we've come to this, and football is pointless. 

 

I love keegan but just want to remember him from his playing days and first time manager days. Met him just the once in RL, seriously, what a bloke. Any honest mackem would love him. 

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56 minutes ago, Renton said:

Yesterday when the match was on i was feeling fucked, a virus i've had. Anyway, slumped on my sofa, stumbled across the sky sports channels and there was a long interview of steve harmison interviewing special K. Nothing new in this, but couldnt help thinking but for a very few different chances (3/3/1996 in particular) things could have been so diifferent. Keegan was sanguine in this observation, personally i stil feel gutted and angry. Because now we've come to this, and football is pointless. 

 

I love keegan but just want to remember him from his playing days and first time manager days. Met him just the once in RL, seriously, what a bloke. Any honest mackem would love him. 

Good handwriting?

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My last job ended in rancour and recriminations and my final game as a manager was a 3–0 defeat at Arsenal in August 2008 that will probably always be remembered for the television cameras picking out Mike Ashley in the away end, where he proceeded to down a pint in roughly the same amount of time it has taken you to read this sentence.

It wasn’t Mike’s beer-guzzling that upset me that day. It was the fact that Tony Jimenez, the executive who had been put in charge of Newcastle’s transfer business, had informed me we were spending £5.7 million on a Spanish player called Xisco whom nobody from the club had ever seen play. On the same day the Xisco bombshell was dropped, I had also found out a Uruguayan by the name of Ignacio González was joining us as a “favour” for two South American agents.

Everything reached a head, trying to prepare for one of the toughest games of the season while also having to deal with the growing knowledge that the people who were supposed to be my colleagues were taking me for a ride.

It was on the morning of the game that Dennis Wise rang to ask me to go online and check out González. Dennis said he had heard great things but admitted he had never actually seen him play. Further enquiries revealed that nobody, in fact, from Newcastle had ever seen this guy kick a ball.

Nor did it say much for the player that Dennis had texted me the wrong name, and my initial search on the internet came up with nothing. I had to go back to Dennis to find out the correct spelling. But I did as he asked.

I logged on again, typed in González’s name and eventually found him. I looked at his background, his age and what he had done in his career, and it didn’t need a great deal of investigation to realise this player would be out of his depth in the higher echelons of the Premier League.

González had gone on loan to Monaco, then a mid-table team in France, earlier in the year and flopped. He made five appearances in six months and didn’t finish 90 minutes once. We were coming to the end of August and he had played fewer than 200 minutes since Christmas. He didn’t speak a word of English and, for the life of me, I couldn’t see any reason why Newcastle might be attracted to him.

When I rang Dennis to explain it was out of the question, he seemed determined to change my mind. González, he said, was a “great player” and our contacts in South America meant we had the chance to get him on a season-long loan. He was adamant we should give him a go and suggested that if I clicked on YouTube I might find some footage to change my opinion.

YouTube? I came from an era when managers chose players on more than a few carefully edited clips on YouTube. I wanted to know a player’s character. I wanted to see how hard he worked, whether he had a good positional sense, what his concentration was like. Those were things you didn’t get from 60 seconds online.

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing from Dennis — an experienced football man — but I did log on to YouTube and eventually found a short video showing González’s career highlights. It looked as if he was playing in a local park in some of the games.

It wasn’t long before my worst suspicions were confirmed and I had a tip-off that González and Xisco had already arrived in England. One was in London, I was told, and the other was in the North East. The two deals were going through, and it didn’t make me feel any better to learn about the amount of money the club intended to throw away in the process.

Xisco alone was costing £5.7 million as well as a salary of £60,000 a week. He was 22, which was a better age than González, but when I checked out his background it was unremarkable stuff again. He had been at Deportivo La Coruña ‘B’, the club’s reserve set-up, and then moved up to the seniors, playing 44 times in three years. It had earned him a call-up to Spain’s under-21s, but it was still absurd to expect him to play in front of 50,000-plus people at St James’ Park.

González had been offered a lower salary, at £26,000 a week, but that still worked out close to £1 million over the season, and a very strange deal had been cooked up whereby he was actually signing for Valencia, a big club with their own network of agents, and within 24 hours we were getting him on loan. What was all that about? It was an unusual arrangement, to say the least, and I didn’t like the look of it one bit.

What I didn’t know was what Mike Ashley made of it. Did he know these deals were being arranged behind my back? Did he care? My head was spinning and I did what I was told I should never do. I took out my phone and rang the owner.

He answered straight away and seemed happy enough to hear from me. “Hi, King Kev.” Mike always called me King Kev, or sometimes he would refer to me as “the most honest man in football”. I think, deep down, he respected the fact I had integrity.

He didn’t seem to know anything about the González loan, but he said — if it would make me feel any happier — he would pay for it out of his own pocket rather than the club’s transfer budget. He didn’t seem to realise why I was so aggrieved, and he certainly didn’t look too concerned when we went into that game against Arsenal and the television cameras picked him out in the away end with a pint of lager in his hand. Twelve seconds was all it needed for the entire pint to disappear down his throat. “Is he in a rush?” the television commentator asked.

We lost 3–0 and when I came home, utterly demoralised, I was already thinking that was it for me. I was sick of them; sick of the way they were riding roughshod over me, sick of being treated like dirt, sick of the attitude where they clearly thought, “Oh, don’t worry about the manager, he’ll come round in the end.” I had had enough. The next day I rang Mike again. “I’m just with someone,” he said, “but I’ll get back to you.” The phone went dead and he never rang back. He did that to me a few times at Newcastle. I waited a full day and then I texted him a message. “The most honest man in football treated like garbage.”

When I spoke to Wise on the telephone that day, it was the first time he explained the real reasons why the González loan was being done. Dennis explained it was a favour for two agents — Paco Casal, a Uruguayan, and Marcelo Lombilla, an Argentinian — who had helped us get [Fabricio] Coloccini and [Jonás] Gutiérrez, and that if we took the hit on this one occasion and agreed to “park” González, they would look upon us favourably in the future.

“You don’t even have to play this guy,” Dennis said. “We want to keep the agent sweet. If you don’t want the player to train with you, you can put him in the academy. And if you don’t like him, we can get rid of him in January.” Mike had been filled in and the owner’s view was that González didn’t even have “to set foot in St James’ Park”.

I thought Dennis was kidding at first. He liked a laugh and I genuinely thought he might be joking. When I realised he was actually being serious, I knew immediately that I couldn’t have anything to do with a deal of that nature. I wanted to save the club from the possibility of being investigated. I wanted to protect the people around me and I wanted to look after my own reputation. I didn’t like the word “parked” and I dreaded to think of the repercussions if what the club were doing reached the newspapers. It would have been a scandal and, as far as I was concerned, it was not one I could defend.

Dennis called it a “favour”. A favour? As favours go, it was going to cost Newcastle a fortune. Both players were going to earn seven-figure salaries, and in Xisco’s case it was upwards of £3 million a year. Casal pocketed €250,000 from Valencia as his slice of the [González] deal. It must have been the easiest money he had ever made and, laughably, González’s loan deal had an option to buy him for £8 million at the end of the season.

Newcastle were not breaking any rules but it looked terrible, and left us open to all sorts of questions. The club weren’t buying these players for orthodox reasons; it was to do a favour for two agents, one of whom was getting a six-figure sum for setting it up. I felt that it was fundamentally wrong at every level and various people were getting rich off the back of it. It turned my blood cold.

I had never been asked to “park” a player in my life and this wasn’t a kid of 15 or 16 we were talking about. This was a man of 26. Maybe Dennis, when he was a manager, would have done it. But I wouldn’t. “I have my pride and my dignity,” I told him. “I do not want to be associated with this deal. It stinks.”

I knew it was over but I wanted an explanation and I asked Dennis if he would have agreed to this kind of “favour” when he was managing Leeds. I told him I could ask the same question to a hundred managers and none would have put up with it. Can you imagine, I asked, what Alex Ferguson’s reaction would have been at Manchester United if two players had been signed behind his back? Or Rafa Benítez at Liverpool? Or any manager worth his salt?

“Juande Ramos at Spurs would do it this way,” he said. “Well, you need to find another Juande Ramos then,” I snapped.

I knew there was no way back for me at Newcastle. Maybe they thought I wouldn’t dare walk away from a £3-million-a-year contract but they obviously didn’t know me very well. They had made my job untenable and, when I officially announced my resignation, via the League Managers’ Association, I wanted to make it clear to the supporters that I had been in office but not in power. After that, I started the long and difficult process of filing a claim for constructive dismissal and preparing to take Newcastle to an independent arbitration panel. Newcastle launched a counter-claim for £2 million, citing a breach of contract.

Every day for two weeks I would walk from my hotel in London to 70 Fleet Street, the offices of the International Dispute Resolution Centre, where the tribunal was heard. I used that walk to clear my head. It was a difficult, gruelling experience and I will never know how Dennis Wise, with absolutely zero shame, could possibly think on the day he was giving evidence that I would want to shake his hand.

In the end, the three-man panel — Philip Havers QC, Lord Pannick QC and Ken Merrett, Manchester United’s assistant club secretary — didn’t need long to realise how lopsided all the evidence was. Their verdict was crushing for Newcastle because what it said, in short, was that the tribunal accepted my interpretation of events rather than the arguments made by the club. I felt vindicated. It was an enormous sense of relief; finally I could get on with my life and start putting it all behind me. But I was sad, too, that it had gone that far and appalled by some of the stuff that had come out.

It was certainly interesting to note the awkward body language as they gave evidence, under oath, and tried to explain the González loan at a time when Newcastle were supposedly trying to change the culture whereby agents had too much influence at St James’ Park and were making extraordinary amounts of money out of the club.

Wise’s argument was that it was not out of the ordinary for these kinds of deals to happen in football, referring to them as “commercials”, and telling a story about his time at Leeds to illustrate his point. According to Dennis, the Leeds chairman, Ken Bates, approached him to suggest they offer a boy of 17 a professional contract. The boy wasn’t good enough to be a footballer but that, plainly, was not the most important detail as far as Leeds were concerned. The boy’s father had a successful business and a lucrative deal had been arranged for that company to sponsor Leeds — on condition they signed the boss’s son.

The boy was never named. Yet Wise made it clear he was happy to go along with this sham. “I said to Ken, ‘He won’t play in the first team, he won’t play in the reserves, is that OK?’ And he said, ‘OK.’ It wasn’t explained to the boy. His dad didn’t tell him. And I didn’t think it was my responsibility either.”

Can you believe it? We all do favours for friends sometimes, or even friends of friends, but there is a big difference between setting up someone with work experience and offering a professional contract when you know it is all a pretence. It was completely wrong. It might be the way Leeds worked back then. It wasn’t the way I wanted Newcastle to be.

Newcastle were ordered to pay me £2 million, plus interest, as well as costs, with the panel condemning the club for “repeatedly and intentionally misleading the press, public and the fans of Newcastle United”, noting how the loan deal for González “cost nearly £1 million in wages for a player who was not expected to play in the first team”.

They had dragged the club’s reputation through the gutter and, when it came to González, I still find it difficult to understand how it didn’t spark an investigation by the football authorities. Let me stress that no rules had been broken, as was made clear in the tribunal, but can you ever remember a deal that looked worse? We were talking about vast sums of money changing hands as a so-called favour. Not once did anyone from the FA seem to think, “Hang on, what the hell was all that about?”

Xisco made nine league appearances for Newcastle in four-and-a-half years and scored once in all that time. He was loaned to Racing Santander and Deportivo La Coruña once Newcastle had cottoned on that he wasn’t good enough. His contract was terminated in January 2013 and the Newcastle Evening Chronicle named him as one of the worst centre forwards in the club’s history.

Ignacio González? He made two substitute appearances for Newcastle, totalling 38 minutes, before getting injured and was never picked again. Newcastle decided not to take the £8 million option to turn his season-long loan into a permanent transfer and he went back to Valencia, who didn’t want him either. The next stage of his career was on loan at Levadiakos of Greece, where he made 14 appearances, and he eventually joined Standard Liège on a free transfer.

Valencia didn’t use him once and, unless I am missing something, how precisely did Newcastle benefit from that “favour” with the two South American agents? Joe Kinnear took over from me as manager. Newcastle were relegated at the end of that season and more than a hundred honest, hard-working people lost their jobs. All those lives irrevocably changed for the sake of some South American backscratching.

 

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Am I the only one disappointed by Keegan's "explosive" book? So far there's nothing we haven't already heard in the press or during his talk ins. I had my fingers crossed there were going to be new revelations to turn the pressure up on Ashley

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1 hour ago, Kid Dynamite said:

Am I the only one disappointed by Keegan's "explosive" book? So far there's nothing we haven't already heard in the press or during his talk ins. I had my fingers crossed there were going to be new revelations to turn the pressure up on Ashley

That sort of stuff is well known to us but probably isn’t to the wider crowd. I imagine for them, the excerpts are twice as interesting.

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An hour in the company of the wise-cracking Tony Jimenez provides a fascinating insight into the nature of modern football for good and ill. Particularly his stormy nine-month spell at Newcastle United and bruising battles with Kevin Keegan.

Among the businessman’s more eye-catching anecdotes are his claims that Mike Ashley never wanted to buy Newcastle and rejected the chance to sell the club to Sheikh Mansour before the Abu Dhabi takeover of Manchester City. There is also a litany of allegedly botched transfer deals that raise questions about Keegan’s judgment.

Jimenez jokes that he is happy to help Keegan sell more copies of his autobiography, My Life in Football, but also wants to give his side of a story that caused uproar when serialised in The Times last weekend.

It is claimed that, in his role as a vice-president of Newcastle, Jimenez rejected the chance to sign Luka Modric in 2008 on the grounds that the Croatia midfielder was “too lightweight”. The 55-year-old’s recollection of the Modric transfer negotiations is very different, while his list of young players whom Keegan allegedly rejected as not good enough would make quite a fantasy football team.

Jimenez told The Times that Keegan did not attend the meeting with Modric and his agent at St James’ Park on April 22, 2008, nor was he present during the negotiations for any players signed during his eight-month return to the club. Modric met Keegan at the training ground that day but Jimenez insists that the deal collapsed when Mike Ashley, the Newcastle owner, baulked at Dynamo Zagreb’s asking price. Tottenham Hotspur accepted it five days later.


Jimenez said: “We flew Modric over to Newcastle, got him to the training ground. Everything was pretty much agreed but it was down to Mike. He was given the numbers — a £16 million fee and £2 million commission for the agent — and decided he didn’t want to take the risk.

“We had a gentleman’s agreement with Tottenham that we wouldn’t compete for the same players. We let Jonathan Woodgate go to Spurs on the basis that we would get Modric, but Mike didn’t want to pay. In the end I told Daniel Levy that we had pulled out and that Tottenham should sign him.”

Keegan stood by the claim made in his autobiography, My Life in Football, when contacted by The Times yesterday. “Tony is entitled to his opinion, but the truth is in the book,” he said.

Almost the only thing that the pair can agree on is the toxic nature of the relationship between Keegan and the Newcastle hierarchy that appointed him — Ashley, Jimenez and the director of football Dennis Wise. Jimenez portrays Keegan as a diva-esque figure who signed up to the club’s business plan of targeting young players before making impossible demands to sign household names. He allegedly threatened to resign when he did not get his own way, even walking out during his job interview, which he says was the result of being offered a contract with a 12-month break clause.

Although maligned by Keegan as “a former Chelsea steward” — a job he had as a teenager — Jimenez has quietly worked in the background in football for two decades alongside his property and technology businesses, advising clubs in Italy, Spain and England, before coming to public prominence at Newcastle and going on to buy Charlton Athletic.

“Kevin was told at the interview that this is the job, these are the financial constraints — don’t take it if you don’t want it,” Jimenez says. “Go back to Glasgow and run your Soccer Circus rather than creating a circus in Newcastle, which is what he did. He just said yes to get the job.

“Kevin was a great player but lives in a time-warp. He played in an era when the top managers ran every aspect of football clubs and thinks his status in the game means he should have the same control. He didn’t understand that it doesn’t work like that anymore. Perhaps God had given him so much talent in his feet that he’d taken something else away?”

The seemingly endless rows, beginning at their first meeting in Mayfair, central London, would make a fine black comedy if it were not for the misery they caused to Newcastle fans. “Things seemed to be going well as we explained our business plan, but after an hour he decided he wanted to go and talk to his wife, who’d come down to London from Glasgow with him,” Jimenez says. “He left the room, but the ten minutes turned into 20, 30, then 40 minutes so we went looking for him.

“We couldn’t find him in the building and it turned out he was driving back to Scotland without having said anything! That was his first tantrum, and he didn’t even have the job.”

Keegan does not dispute rejecting players proposed by the club after he joined in January 2008, as his priority was signing experienced centre halves such as Sami Hyypia or Jonathan Woodgate, although he doubts that some of the targets on what now looks like a stellar list were really attainable.

“The minute you questioned him he lost the plot,” Jimenez says. “During that window we offered him the players that we were working on when we thought Harry Redknapp was coming as manager — Jermain Defoe, Peter Crouch, Lassana Diarra — and he said none of them were good enough. The other player we were really keen on was Daniel Sturridge. He said he’d had him as a kid at Man City and that he wasn’t good enough for League One.

“He didn’t want Hatem Ben Arfa or Karim Benzema either. We asked Kevin for a list of players for every position, bearing in mind he had £25 million to spend. Our list included Benzema and Ben Arfa who were young players at Lyons, as well as Samir Nasri.

“Kevin took one look and called them all chancers. His list was David Beckham, Frank Lampard, Ronaldinho, Kaka among others. We added their transfer value up and it was £399 million, plus £100 million in wages.”

There were other wrangles of contract negotiations, with Newcastle unwilling to meet Michael Owen’s wage demands and Keegan eager to sell the then 19-year-old Andy Carroll to Norwich City for £300,000, less than 1 per cent of the fee that they received from Liverpool for him three years later. “Kevin wanted to give him [Owen] a new five-year deal on £140,000 a week,” Jimenez says. “We made a counter offer of £80,000 which would reach £120,000 if he played 65 minutes per game. Keegan went ballistic.

“He also went mad when we gave a new contract to Carroll, whom he said would never make it as a professional. He said £300,000 was a fantastic price. We couldn’t trust his judgment.”

The final straw for Keegan came when Newcastle signed Xisco and Ignacio González in August 2008, as detailed in his book extracts this week, but Jimenez suspects that he had been looking for a way out for some time and that the sale of James Milner to Aston Villa that month was just as significant.

The next year Keegan was awarded £2 million after an independent arbitration panel ruled that he had been constructively dismissed, but he had lodged a claim for £25 million and previously rejected a settlement offer of £4 million, so it was a pyrrhic victory.

“He has made a lot out of Xisco and González, but they were part of deals to sign Fabricio Coloccini and Jonás Gutiérrez, who were also players he didn’t want who did well for Newcastle,” Jimenez says. “Sometimes you have to take a player to get the one you really want. He’s made a lot of only being given YouTube clips, but he didn’t go and watch Coloccini and Gutiérrez.

“Kevin was looking for an excuse to go and could have walked out at any point from the moment he joined.”

Jimenez also said that he was only brought in to help Ashley sell the club. “Mike wanted me to sell the club on the basis of my relationships in the Middle East so I came in under the cover story of working in player recruitment,” Jimenez said. “If he had played his cards right Mike could have sold Newcastle to Abu Dhabi before they bought Manchester City.”

 

 

Edited by ewerk

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