With apparent talks between Newcastle United and Newcastle Brown Ale of the beer company becoming the team’s main sponsor it brings a wave of nostalgia over the city. Who could forget the famous “Entertainers” squad or Kevin Keegan’s passion fueled “I would love it” interview? So with that I decided to have a look at Newcastle United under Newcastle Brown Ale sponsorship.
Newcastle have had 4 permanent managers with Newcastle Brown Ale as their sponsors, all with varying degrees of success. Those 4 being Kevin Keegan, Kenny Dalglish, Ruud Gullit and Sir Bobby Robson. The highest league position achieved was 2 consecutive second place finishes under Keegan. Keegan famously assembled the 1995 Entertainers squad but will probably be remembered for his “I would love it” interview or the iconic image of him slumped over an advertising board after Stan Collymore scored the winner in a 4-3 loss against Liverpool which well and truly ended the club’s title hopes that season. A great match for neutrals and Liverpool supporters, not so much for Newcastle fans. Keegan’s most important act at the club was the £15 million signing of Alan Shearer, a world record at the time. Shearer scored 28 goals in his first season and went on to become the Premier League’s greatest ever striker with 283 league goals. Scotsman Kenny Dalglish took over in January 1997 after Keegan’s resignation a week earlier. He guided the team to a second place finish. In the 1997/98 summer transfer window he sold many fan favourite players and brought in ageing players like John Barnes and Ian Rush, who left for Wrexham on a free transfer at the end of season. His cautions style of football was a major step down from Kevin Keegan’s entertaining, attacking football. This upset the fans as it was boring and (more importantly) didn’t produce good enough results. The team finished in 13th place and didn’t make it past the group stages of the Champions League. However on the plus side the squad reached the final FA Cup for the first time in almost 25 years but lost 2-0 to Arsenal. Dalglish was sacked after the games the following season. His successor was Ruud Gullit who had won the FA Cup with Chelsea a few seasons ago. The Dutchman wanted to bring “sexy football” with him however the team finished in 13th place yet again. It’s safe to say that Gullit didn’t have the best of times at Newcastle United, his falling outs with many senior players put his job under even more pressure. Possibly the only upside to that season was reaching the final of the FA Cup again however a 2-0 loss at the hands of Manchester United broke Geordie fan’s hearts yet again. The League Cup campaign ended in failure after a loss on penalties to Blackburn Rovers in the fourth round. Newcastle were in Europe for the fourth time but a defeat on away goals to Partizan Belgrade ended hopes of a European tour. All in all the 98/99 season was a complete bust, the less said about it the better really. The final season I’m going to be covering is the 99/00 season which was Sir Bobby Robson first season as Newcastle manager. This season was more a rebuilding season than anything. It was Sir Bobby’s duty to return Newcastle United to their former glory. Yet again the club were in a European competition as they reached the FA Cup final and Manchester United had already qualified for Europe. They played in the UEFA Cup (more commonly referred to as the Europa League nowadays) and reached the third round after victories over CSKA Sofia and FC Zurich but fell to Roma in a 1-0 loss. Newcastle finished in 11th place, which shows improvement, and reached the semi-final of the FA. Sir Bobby went on to manage Newcastle until 2004 before retiring from management. He died in the summer of 2009. He will never be forgotten in Tyneside.
The most successful period?
This era could be deemed as the most successful period for Newcastle in the Premier League. It’s the closest any Newcastle squad has ever gotten to winning the Premier League. However the club hasn’t won a major trophy for almost 50 years. This record was almost broken in 1995-96 but was snatched away at the very ended and landed a cruel blow on boss Kevin Keegan. His Entertainers squad was probably the greatest squad of the modern era and I personally believe that they were the greatest squad to never win the league. But their achievements mustn’t be forgotten as they provided Newcastle supporters with some of their greatest memories as a supporter. Premier League Years 1995/96 also makes good viewing, as long as you turn it off before the end.
Featured image credit: Yellow Book LTD