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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Fans Weep, Wonder at Keegan Exit

LONDON -- British newspapers speculated freely as to why Kevin Keegan suddenly resigned as Newcastle United's manager, variously blaming pressure from banks, the millions he spent and the stresses of the job.


His shock departure from the leading English soccer club left thousands of fans in tears outside Newcastle's ground and pushed every other story into the background, even making the lead on Britain's most serious evening television news programs.


The tabloid Daily Star, which devoted no less than 14 pages to the story, said Keegan feared he was about to crack up under the pressure. He had already tried to leave twice before and finally got his way at the third time of asking.


"If I didn't quit the job was going to get me," the paper quoted him as telling a friend. Some observers said he had aged 20 years over the last three months.


Assistant team manager Terry McDermott said: "He told me that soccer left him a burnt-out shell of a man."


The Times said the bank backing Newcastle's planned flotation on the stock market had insisted that if Keegan really wanted to step down, he should do so immediately so as not to harm the club's prospects by scaring away prospective investors.


Early on Wednesday, Keegan announced it was time to go after almost five years during which he saved the club from disaster but failed to win any silverware despite shelling out ?60 million ($101 million) on high-profile players.


The Times and other newspapers said Keegan's relations with club chief Sir John Hall -- who put up the money -- had worsened as the team continued to splutter despite the signing of England striker Alan Shearer.


"He has fallen prey to the savage beast that is modern, money-washed English soccer whose insatiable appetite defies satisfaction," said The Sun.


The rival Daily Mirror said the real turning point was a blazing row Keegan had with his players last month after a 1-0 loss away to lowly Blackburn Rovers when he accused them of not earning their huge wages.


The Journal, a Newcastle-based paper, claimed he resigned because the club blocked his move to sign striker Guiseppe Signori from Italy's Lazio.


The paper said club chairman Hall viewed a move for the Italian as one big-name bid too far.


Close friend Mick Channon said "There have been rumors he's not been entirely happy with things for some time now. But I suspect only Kevin and his pillow will know the real reasons for his decision,"


The favorite to succeed Keegan is Kenny Dalglish. Dalglish guided both Liverpool and Blackburn to the English league title.


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Middlesbrough lifted the gloom of its wretched season by pulling off a 2-1 upset win over Liverpool to reach the English League Cup semifinals.


It was joined in the last four by Wimbledon, which won 2-2 against first division Bolton Wanderers.


Middlesbrough's hustle and bustle style stifled injury-hit Liverpool's characteristic fluent passing game, and the home side seized the lead after 14 minutes.


A sloppy clearance by Liverpool goalkeeper David James allowed midfielder Craig Hignett to fasten onto the ball and drive it home.


Liverpool fell further behind after 27 minutes when defender Steve Vickers hammered the second goal from a corner by Hignett.


Steve McManaman pulled one back for Liverpool in the second half.


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The problems of Deportivo Coruna coach John Toshack worsened Wednesday when his side went down 2-0 to Sevilla in the first leg of the third round of the Spanish Cup.


But the evening had good news for Pepe Carcelen, who saw his Espanol team come back from a goal down to dispatch Sporting Gijon 4-1.


1994 Cup winners Zaragoza hung on for a 1-1 draw at home to Racing Santander despite having two men sent off.


(For other results, see Scorecard.)