Kevin Keegan blasts Mike Ashley '˜mismanagement' '“ but says Rafa Benitez may fancy life in Championship

Former Newcastle United manager Kevin Keegan has criticised Mike Ashley's running of the club as they face a future in the Championship.

Kevin Keegan
Kevin Keegan

The Magpies will be relegated tonight if Sunderland beat Everton, and Keegan believes it is the latest in a catalogue of errors from the United owner.

Keegan won a constructive dismissal case against Ashley after an ill-fated second spell in the St James’s Park hotseat, and says the billionaire hasn’t learned from his mistakes.

Mike Ashley

“The owner has had quite a lot of years of making a lot of mistakes,” Keegan, 65, told BBC Sport.

“They are going to have to go down and regroup. That’s not going to be easy.

“You have to look at Mike Ashley and say he hasn’t handled the decision-making very well or he’s given the responsibility to people and they haven’t handled it very well.

“You make mistakes in football and you get punished, especially the Premier League now. The owner has had quite a lot of years of making a lot of mistakes. They are where they are and I think they will go down but they’ll bounce back.”

Mike Ashley

Newcastle have spent £80million on new signings this season, but Keegan believes the transfer policy is deeply flawed.

“It is mismanagement from the very top,” he added. “They bought players for the future but sometimes maybe you have to buy players for the present.

“It’s all right having a few good young players from France but can they play in the Premier League now?

“If they can’t – don’t buy them or certainly don’t play them. A few of them have found it very tough and the confidence goes and then even good players start to look pretty poor.”

With Newcastle seemingly destined for the Championship, the future of manager Rafa Benitez remains in doubt, with the Spaniard having a break clause in his contract if the club are relegated.

However, reports have emerged that he may stay at the club even if they drop into the second tier of English football.

Keegan added: “Benitez might fancy it. It is a big club. Once you go there and manage it, it does impress you as a club. The stadium is impressive, the fans and their passion is something that you can’t help but like and want to be part of.

“He hasn’t managed in the Championship - would that be a worry? I don’t think so for a man of his experience. It might be a really good experience for him.”