Candid Keegan hits back

Newcastle boss gives frank assessment

Kevin Keegan delivered a frank and candid assessment of the Premier League, before giving a telling insight into the relationship he shares with Newcastle owner Mike Ashley in the aftermath of his side's 2-0 defeat to Chelsea.

While Newcastle were far from rolled over by Avram Grant's title contenders at St James' Park, Keegan was in a less than defiant mood at the final whistle.

In a post-match interview with Sky Sports, Keegan spoke of a massive gulf that is emerging in the Premier League, before going into more detail in his press conference.

Keegan believes England's top flight is in danger of becoming 'boring' in its predictability, admitting clubs like his own are a 'million miles' away from the top four.

Boring league?

"We are a million miles away from that," said the 57-year-old.

"This league is in danger of becoming one of the most boring but great leagues in the world. The top four next year will be the same top four as this year.

"What I can say to the Newcastle fans is that we will be trying to get fifth and we will be trying to win the other league that's going on within the Premier League.

"We should make a run at that providing the owner backs me - I have no proof of that yet but I have no doubts he will.

"If I can get three or four players in to what I have got here and we have that bit of luck you need with no injuries to key players then we might be able to win the second division of the Premier League."

No talking

Keegan went on to reiterate that he does not anticipate a repeat of the problems he encountered during his first reign at St James' Park, when then chairman Sir John Hall did not come up with the cash he felt he had been promised.

However, his revelation that he never speaks to Ashley - if his words were not tongue-in-cheek - could well alarm the club's supporters.

He added: "It's definitely not that. What I am saying is the holidays have changed, the destinations have changed.

"My enthusiasm is the same. I love this club. It is not about brochures.

"That was because Sir John Hall promised me money and then when I asked for it, it wasn't quite there. That's when I said 'It's not like the brochure'. Nothing like that is happening here.

"I get on great with the owner (Mike Ashley) because I never talk to him. That's better than some managers at the moment. No communication is good now.

"He will support us, I don't think there will be a problem there. But it will be getting the players, that's always the biggest challenge.

"Sometimes it's just getting them to come to you when they have got three or four alternatives - and if they are really good players they have got three or four alternatives."

Uncertain future

With the future of Michael Owen still very much subject to conjecture, Keegan's assessment of the club's potential has perhaps come at an awkward time but the Toon chief insists he is only being honest in his appraisal.

And he remains confident that the club could yet thrash out fresh terms to keep the England international in the North East.

Asked what Owen's response would be if told fifth was the target next season, Keegan replied: "He will say: 'It's a damn sight better than we have done this year, gaffer'.

"I have never said to Michael 'Stay here and we will get Champions League football', or 'We will win the league' so I am not misleading anybody there.

"If we finished fifth it would be a massive achievement for this club next year, considering where we are now."