The Keegan pattern

Andy Gray has got it right. He wrote in the Daily Mail (I’m a google reader only):

“I have been wracking my brains to think of anyone in football who has returned to a club where they enjoyed great success and managed to replicate those glory days.

I did it as a player at Villa and wished I hadn’t bothered; Howard Kendall, a brilliant manager, did it at Everton and failed; and even the great Sir Matt Busby went back to Old Trafford and lived to regret it, so I have to admit a certain amount of trepidation over Kevin Keegan’s decision to go back to Newcastle.”

Your brain and patterns are to blame! When you go back not only do you have the same brain in your head and therefore the same patterns, but you also have the whole familiar environment driving your patterns. So you do what you did before without thinking. And even when you think, it is within the framework of the establish patterns.

Keegan is no exception. From today’s Guardian:

“When Keegan went to introduce himself to his squad after Wednesday night’s FA Cup replay win against Stoke City he accidentally walked in on Tony Pulis’s team ablutions, the home and away dressing rooms having been swapped since he was last in power at St James’ Park.”

It wasn’t an accident. His patterns told him what to do. He wasn’t even thinking, he just did as he was told by his brain.

The most obvious, and most often quoted Keegan pattern is “attack, attack, attack” or “if you score 4, we’ll score 5”. And yes, that is likely to happen. It’s a proven pattern. But we also have a pretty good idea what is going to happen next off the pitch. As Andy Gray rightly says…

“Don’t forget Keegan himself admitted he wasn’t up to the job when he walked out on England. He turned his back on Fulham and in the end enjoyed mediocre success at City before he left them claiming he no longer wished to deal with the stress of modern football. That’s why I am a little gobsmacked that he has just walked back into one of the most stressful jobs in the game.”

We know what Keegan does under stress.

Like Andy, I hope this turns out to be a fairytale appointment but, hand on heart, I can’t say I am convinced. The pattern says it isn’t likely to happen.


  1. 1 The new Charlton « The displaced Kiwi

    […] West Ham is the new Charlton. This is the Curbishley pattern. Here’s the Keegan pattern <link> No Comments Leave a Commenttrackback addressThere was an error with your comment, please […]

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