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Former Newcastle, Man City and England manager Kevin Keegan spoke to Louis Massarella after a busy start to the transfer window ahead of the FA Cup Third Round...
Will Newcastle miss Chelsea-bound Demba Ba?
Replacing his goals will be very difficult because his record for them has been incredible really. He’s been a great signing for him, because they got him for next to nothing. Because of his injury record, other clubs weren’t willing to risk him, and Newcastle probably thought it was a good deal at the time with a £7 million release clause.
Newcastle are only two points above the drop zone. Do you fear they could be dragged into a relegation battle?
If you look at it on the face of things, Newcastle are in a relegation battle, but if you look at it professionally and take into account other factors, they probably won’t be. Yohan Cabaye is a key player and he’ll be back in February; Jonas Gutierrez will come back in soon, Steven Taylor as well, and Papiss Cisse has proved that he can score goals…
With Ba gone, who are Newcastle's key men?
Cheick Tiote and Cabaye are the key for Newcastle. If Cabaye was to be sold now, then I’d say they’re definitely in trouble, but while they’ve got him, they’ve got enough. There are at least three or four teams not as well-equipped as Newcastle. But if they don’t strengthen, with Cisse as your only top-class recognised centre-forward, then they could be in trouble. But if I was a Newcastle fan, I wouldn’t be too worried. Come February and March, I think they’ll get the points required to pull clear.
Which teams are in trouble?
I could see other teams getting dragged into it. Sunderland aren't out of it. QPR’s win against Chelsea just makes you think: ‘Could Harry get them out of it?’ Just maybe he can. Southampton are strong at St Mary’s. Wigan tend to finish the season strong under Roberto Martinez – could they do it again? Then there’s Aston Villa, Norwich aren't definitely safe, so it’s open down there.
Up at the top, with Manchester City seven points behind their local rivals, do United have the trophy in the bag?
I don’t think the title race is over and they still have to go to Old Trafford, which is already looking like a key game. They do have the experience of knowing what it takes to get over the line now, but doing it again isn't a 'gimme'. Seven points is manageable. It’s Man United’s to lose, but they had a decent lead last year and City pegged them back with a great run towards the end of the season, winning their last six games.
How can City get back into it?
In a sense the pressure is off. With Man United leading, they know what they’ve gotta do and can just go for it. They’ve got to do what they did at the end of last season – and win at Old Trafford into the bargain. But City will be telling themselves it’s still possible. One game can change the momentum completely, as we saw last season when Everton came from 4-2 down at Old Trafford to draw 4-4. It’s still on.
ESPN has live and exclusive FA Cup coverage of Swansea City v Arsenal, Mansfield Town v Liverpool and Cheltenham Town v Everton on 6th & 7th January. For details visit www.espn.co.uk/tv
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