Keegan backs Manchester City to retain Premier League title

EXCLUSIVE
By James McManus

Kevin Keegan has tipped Manchester City to win the Premier League title for the second year running this season.

The 61 year-old managed the Citizens for four years between 2001-05, helping the club win promotion back into the top flight during his first year in charge. The face of the club has changed completely since then, but Keegan is tipping them for similar success this term, naming them as favourites for the Premier League crown.

"Manchester City will win it again, Manchester United are going to push them all the way but I think it's mainly between those two," Keegan told Goal.com.

"Despite Chelsea spending £65 million and with Villas-Boas new at Spurs and Newcastle stacking up, I still think it's going to be in the North West again."

When asked where the main challenge to the Manchester duopoly was going to come from, Keegan stated that the usual suspects would certainly be in the frame for a top-four spot, although the majority of teams were simply playing catch-up.

"Chelsea and Arsenal definitely - I think that the top four are going to be the same, it's been nearly the same top four for around 10 years now.

"The Liverpools and Tottenhams have been playing catch-up for the most part and although they've managed to do it on occasion, there's a big gap there still."

Keegan made his name as a player at Liverpool during a trophy-laden six-year spell in the 1970s, and he believes that under the management of new boss Brendan Rodgers, the club are heading in the right direction, but that any talk of a title push in the near future needs to be dampened.

He added: "It all depends on who you talk to, we used to talk about the club winning titles and finishing second was a disappointment, but now we're talking about finishing fourth as an achievement. 

"I think if Brendan [Rodgers] can get them into third or fourth this season, though, then that would make him a gold medal winner.

"He may have had only one season's top flight experience with Swansea, but he was a coach at Chelsea under Jose Mourinho for a number of years, so it's not like he's wet behind the ears. 

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"He's got to be himself, but there are pressures there - the club's got a fantastic stadium and a fantastic history. If he can get that history and use it to his advantage, then he'll be able to take the club forward, but if he doesn't, it becomes an anchor and it can weigh on you.

"My feeling is that the Liverpool fans are more positive than they have been the past two or three years.

"That positivity shouldn't let them think that they could possibly go on and win the league, they're a little bit away from that and behind Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal for me."

Another former club of Keegan's, Newcastle, were last season's surprise packages, confounding expectations to finish fifth in the league, but the two-time Magpies manager warned that the club face a tough ask to crack the top four this term.

"Well it will be interesting to see where Newcastle go because they're in that no-mans land. Are they good enough to get into the top four? I think the answer is no. Could they slip out of it? Yeah, they could," Keegan explained.

"If they finish where they did last season and they can't beat the top four, staying where you are is almost like you're going backwards.

"They've made St James' Park a bit of a difficult place to go - big teams going there and getting beat which hasn't happened since a long time back. As long as Newcastle fans don't expect to finish in the top four, they should be okay."

Kevin Keegan writes exclusively for ESPNFC.com, the new football website. ESPN has live coverage of the Barclays Premier League this season. For details visit: www.espn.co.uk/tv


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