Belfast Telegraph

Keegan enjoying Pardew revolution

Alan Pardew has harnessed the support of his Newcastle players to both save his job and reverse ailing fortunes at St James' Park, according to Kevin Keegan.

Former Newcastle and England manager Keegan hailed Pardew's resolve in riding out nine dismal months to guide the Tynesiders to four straight victories.

Newcastle laboured through two wins in 17 matches before victories over Leicester, Tottenham, Manchester City and Liverpool transformed the mood on Tyneside.

Ex-Liverpool star Keegan praised Newcastle's board for not sacking former Reading boss Pardew, tipping the north east club to consolidate their return to winning ways.

"Four games ago there was despair around Newcastle," Keegan told Press Association Sport.

"He's been under pressure for a long time, since Christmas at least.

"They've persevered with him for whatever reason, and that's worked out to their advantage.

"The one thing that's obvious is that the team's behind him: you don't go to places like Tottenham and Man City and win, or Liverpool at home when they desperately needed a result, without having great team spirit.

"So that's what Alan's got, he's got a lot of character."

Keegan, who led Newcastle to within a whisker of the Premier League title in 1996 and enjoyed a second managerial stint at the club in 2008, believes Newcastle can now profit from the decision not to dismiss Pardew.

"Remember it was only two years ago he was manager of the year so things do change quickly in football," said Keegan, who was launching the GoFest initiative at Surrey Sports Park.

"But sometimes you have to give people who've done it before a little bit more patience, and just respect the fact that actually they've done better than this.

"Sometimes you're going to hit brick walls in football, you're going to lose key players, you're going to sell players you shouldn't sell maybe, that Newcastle did with (Yohan) Cabaye in particular.

"But for Alan I'm really pleased, as an ex-manager of Newcastle, you don't like to see managers just leaving the club every three to six months like some clubs.

"I think the board there have got the rewards for sticking by him: and now they've got to keep it going.

"They are halfway up the table, and they are not that far off the top six now strangely enough.

"They can certainly harness this now to kick on and build again."

Keegan was on hand in Guildford to launch the GoFest initiative, the United Kingdom's first festival of sport, fitness, dance and health, scheduled to run from July 10 to July 12, 2015.

Former England captain Keegan, who won 63 international caps and was twice crowned European Footballer of the Year, urged families to take advantage of the chance to try a range of different sports next summer.

"There is a sport for you and once you get into a sport it's amazing," said Keegan.

"I never thought I'd be a professional, I never thought I'd be good enough to play for a non-league side let alone captain England.

"I didn't get in the Doncaster Boys team at 11 and 15, so even if you get rejected it doesn't mean you stop believing.

"Running turned things around for me: I got myself so fit, without really knowing, that players couldn't live with me any more.

"So through running really I got my chance: I went to Scunthorpe, no one could live with me, I went to Liverpool, no one could live with me.

"My fitness got me way beyond my ability, so there's a real lesson there.

"Team sport has taken me all over the world and given me a life I couldn't have dreamt of, so I would certainly urge anyone to get involved with this."

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