Twenty-six years ago today, Newcastle United’s beloved manager Kevin Keegan wrote up his programme notes in advance of a home match against Arsenal. Having finished sixth in the top division the season before, money had been spent on Warren Barton, Les Ferdinand, David Ginola and Shaka Hislop. So far, it had worked: By Christmas, Newcastle United were 10 points in the lead at the top of the table and they were flying, despite a 2-0 loss at Old Trafford on December 27.
So on January 2, 1996, Kevin Keegan ’s notes were optimistic:
Kevin Keegan said “A very happy New Year to all of you. I sincerely hope that for Newcastle United fans everywhere, 1996 is memorable. I have said many times that the first major honour is the hardest to win for a club that has gone as long as this one has without one. But what’s equally true is that we are now equipped to win something – and that wasn’t always the case here. When I look forward it’s with genuine optimism. Our experiences of last season, when we started so well and finished so disappointingly in both cups and league, served only to make us appreciate that we had to be better this time round. We are better – and we are striving constantly to be better still. My New Year wish is that our best is good enough to win something in 1996.”
It certainly was. Newcastle beat Arsenal 2-0 that day, the goals coming from Les Ferdinand and David Ginola, and went on to win all their league matches that January and into February. At that point, however, the wheels came off. Suddenly Newcastle slumped to five losses in eight matches, and the season was memorable for major silverware slipping from the Magpies’ grasp for a long time to come. A wish unfulfilled then, as it is now.
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