LMA chief calls on Magpies to put house in order

September 5, 2008

League Managers' Association chief executive Richard Bevan has called on Newcastle to sort out their internal structure to ensure the next manager at St James' Park does not suffer the same fate as Kevin Keegan.

Keegan yesterday quit for the second time in his career, citing interference from above, particularly having players he did not want foisted upon him, as the deciding factor.

Fans have been quick to blame owner Mike Ashley and Dennis Wise, who was installed as executive director (football) after Keegan's appointment in January.

The club are now looking for their sixth manager in four years and Bevan believes the next man who takes over must have his role clearly defined and be happy with his place in the power base.

'Newcastle failed to create a structure where Kevin Keegan could flourish,' he said.

'It was like having an orchestra with three conductors and sooner or later it was going to break down.'

Reports this morning suggest Keegan is now liable to pay Newcastle £2million compensation for walking just eight months into a three-and-a-half-year contract.

However, Bevan believes there are more pressing issues for Ashley and his board to concentrate on.

'I think I would have liked to hear Newcastle talking about how to build a model that works, how they are going to create a clear chain of command,' he said.

'The dispute between Kevin and the club is in the hands of the lawyers but at no time in our discussions did Kevin talk about compensation.

'The most important thing for Kevin was that the manager must have the right to manage.

'A couple of nights ago I was with Kevin for a long period of time and his sole focus was with the fans.

'He was torn and when he had no alternative to resign his thoughts were for the fans. That sends a message to Newcastle.'

LMA chairman Howard Wilkinson agreed with Bevan that the club's choice to have a football executive above Keegan was doomed to failure.

'If you are going to work in a football club then the most prominent person in that club - certainly as far as the public is concerned and you could argue as far as anyone is concerned - is the man called the manager or the guy who is responsible for the first team,' he told Sky Sports News.

'So to create a position which is going to result in friction through lack of communication, through a failure to communicate what the role is etc, seems to be a recipe for disaster.

'Particularly if you bring someone into that position between manager and board after you have appointed a manager.'

Bevan said he was not opposed to the continental approach - which is increasingly being employed at English clubs - where one man coaches the team and player recruitment is left to an official at boardroom level.

What he did object to, however, was a change in structure having already employed the manager.

'I've heard a few people saying the continental model doesn't work but I think it does in certain situations,' Bevan told BBC Radio 5 Live. 'It is different for Kevin because he was in charge before other people came on board.

'The next person who comes on board has to make sure there is a clear chain of command and there are shared goals. But is it more about the business. The problem is accentuated in football in that managers are being sacked every 12-18 months.

'What we have to do is ensure that members are better equipped to deal with this. We have to work together as a clearer unit and understand what is important to football and the fans and I am sure the game will move forward.'