Saturday, 19 January 2008

The Cockney Moses

If Keegan's a messiah I want the cockney Moses
By Russell Brand

The Dionysian versus the Apollonian, romanticism versus pragmatism, forever we oscillate and vie between these two contrasting ideas. A wise man once remarked to me that the Third Reich was an example of what happens when you put an artist in a position of power; although many of Hitler's atrocities were committed as a result of him being a right bastard as opposed to an artist - there's nothing in pointillism that suggests that genocide would be worthwhile.

I suppose what he was saying was that a personality whose mind is governed by poetic ideas like Bavarian myth and the operas of Wagner oughtn't be put in charge of foreign policy and defence because they'll pursue impractical objectives to achieve, in this case misguided, romantic ends.

Kevin Keegan's reappointment as Geordie messiah made me reflect on this theory. Now, I'm right behind any second coming, it appeals to me, a Geordie messiah, why stop there? Let's have Harry Redknapp as a cockney Moses and Martin O'Neill as an Ulster Herod. I am enthralled by narrative and Keegan's return is a great story; he's an intriguing character who, I gather, is a little embittered about the way he's been handled by the English press and feels he has scores to settle.

I was initially baffled when I heard the news but on reflection it makes perfect sense particularly if regarded as an insular romance between the people of Newcastle and Keegan rather than a managerial decision made by a massive franchise. Because logically, surely, this doesn't add up. When Keegan took Toon on its euphoric romp from the foot of division one to the summit of the Premier League the footballing landscape was very different. Newcastle were loaded and had few rivals in terms of spending power, that coupled with Kev's then untarnished ebullience was sufficient to bring them tantalisingly close to glory.

But if you look at the top flight now can one really envisage Keegan outsmarting teams bossed by David Moyes, Juande Ramos, Mark Hughes, not to mention the big four and Cockney Moses and Ulster Herod? I suppose when you're in love such thing cease to be relevant.

"He's got a suspect temperament." "Oh I know but look at his hair." "He struggles tactically with defence." "Yeah, but when he looks into my eyes I feel like I'm the only person on earth." "He makes emotional decisions then walks away when he feels the heat." "Look, just fuck off will you, I love him."

For Newcastle fans those feted few seasons under Keegan still have the power of transcendental love, an idyllic holiday away from the glum drudgery of under-achievement and of course they will once more be guaranteed cavalier, adventurous football - he is the anti-Allardyce. Perhaps it's not for us to try to understand the Geordies and their rose-tinted fetish of the admittedly adorable miner's son - few outside of east London will appreciate the adulation felt for "vicious looking" Julian Dicks, and Robbie Fowler could probably push an old lady in a wheelchair into the Mersey without relinquishing his status as "God".

In a sport increasingly compromised for capitalist ends perhaps we should celebrate this tiny triumph of the heart over the head, while Liverpool's beloved Rafael Ben├Čtez looks like he's about to be "Jolled" good and proper by a board that clearly don't respect the feelings of the Kop. The Toon army is being heard.

To me it seems that Keegan can but fail, but what the bloody hell do I know, I'm no expert and I don't support Newcastle but as a fan of football and romance I should be cock-a-hoop at this recalcitrant disregard for reason.

Perhaps Alan Shearer will join as his No2; they could commence each home match with a Women in Love-style nude wrestle in the centre circle while Michael Owen blows cocaine into their anuses. Why not? It'll be a bonding experience like no other.

Keegan's appointment is romantic rather than pragmatic but does that make it wrong? I suppose the correct answer is "who cares?" It's made thousands of people incredibly happy and unless he's had a massive change in philosophical direction in the interim period the consequences are unlikely to be as horrifically profound as Hitler's elevation. Just to be clear: Keegan good, Hitler bad.

Guardian column

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