Mens Team

Tueart: Kevin Keegan was City's very own Mr Motivator!

Tueart: Kevin Keegan was City's very own Mr Motivator!
Dennis Tueart says Kevin Keegan served as Manchester City’s very own Mr Motivator when he arrived to take charge at the Club in 2001.

Keegan took over at Maine Road after our relegation out of the Premier League in the summer of 2001.

Though he had enjoyed huge success as manager of Newcastle, Keegan had endured a tough time in charge of England before arriving at City with many questioning whether he was the right man for the job.

However Tueart – a former City great who by then had a key voice as a director on the Club’s board– revealed how he knew Keegan was the perfect choice to revive our fortunes, attract star players and head up the impending move from Maine Road to the Etihad Stadium.

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“We needed a Mr Motivator. We needed to get up in one year and he (Keegan) was a motivator. He energised everyone,” Tueart recalls in a candid and revealing episode of the Man City Podcast.

“I’d known Kevin since 1975-76 when we were together in the England team and he said then you never stay anywhere longer than four to five years, your time’s run.

“He’s never stayed anywhere longer than four or five years but in the shorter term, he’s done the job.

“And when people knew Kevin was coming, I got calls saying ‘He’ll be trouble, he’ll want to run this, he’ll want to run that. He’ll throw his dummy out the pram.’


                        TRUE BLUE: Dennis Tueart had two memorable spells as a City player and also served as a director of the Club
TRUE BLUE: Dennis Tueart had two memorable spells as a City player and also served as a director of the Club

“I said, ‘Listen, let him get us into the Premier League in the short term, I’ll handle the bit afterwards.’

“That was the most important thing… getting to our new stadium (and being in the Premier League).

“David Bernstein (City chairman at the time) and I drove up to see Kevin, because I knew where he lived up in the North East, and we had a great meeting and he said ‘Yes, I’ll go’.

“And from then on, we were on a whistle-stop – it was 100 mile an hour.

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“We wouldn’t have got players like Peter Schmeichel, Nicolas Anelka, Ali Benarbia, Eyal Berkovic – we wouldn’t have got those quality players without Kevin Keegan.

“All of a sudden, we were flying again.

“I always remember when we got promoted (2001/02…I speak to supporters now at branch meetings and they always remember that year with Kevin Keegan in the Championship.

“It was just fantastic. We scored 100 goals, I think it was and the atmosphere was just phenomenal.


                        TWO'S COMPANY: Kevin Keegan with Robbie Fowler after a win at Bolton in 2004
TWO'S COMPANY: Kevin Keegan with Robbie Fowler after a win at Bolton in 2004

“We went in there and I always remember we played Barcelona in a friendly game here – 34,000 in the new stadium because it was a test event so we couldn’t go to full capacity.

“And we just looked round the stadium – Barcelona walking out at the Etihad - and everyone’s got blue shirts in the stadium.

“And I thought, that’s where we should be.”

During the Podcast, Tueart also lifts the lid on the background to the signing of former Liverpool and England striker Robbie Fowler from Leeds in January 2003.

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It was a protracted transfer and one that put Keegan at loggerheads with Bernstein who harboured misgivings over the move and who subsequently stepped down from his role as chairman.

“It was a strange one. While Kevin has strengths, his weakness is he falls out of love with players very quickly,” Tueart told the Podcast.

“He gets players in and if they don’t perform, he just wants to churn them and move them on.

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“And we didn’t have the money to keep buying players and move them on after a year, 18 months.

“To be perfectly honest, Robbie wasn’t fully fit as he’d had this bad knee injury.

“We’d done a good deal with Leeds and that’s where Kevin fell out with David Bernstein because David was trying to sort the deal and Kevin was saying ‘I want him, I want him.’

“David didn’t think the deal was right for us (because of) injuries and what we were looking for in the team.

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“And Kevin wanted him and while he was one of the best finishers I’ve ever seen you could see he lacked a yard of pace.

“We got him one season and at the start of the next season I said to Kevin: ‘Robbie’s commitment’s great, his stamina is great, he’s just lost that little bit of real sharpness - why don’t we just pay for a conditioning coach for two weeks before the season starts, get him in great shape and then he’s ready for the start of the season?’

“Kevin said, ‘I’ll speak to Robbie’ and he came back and said, ‘No, Robbie said he’s going to do some sharpening work himself before the start of the season.’

“After a month you could see Robbie wasn’t (right) and Kevin pulled him out of the squad.”

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