A story has surfaced that shows how all over the place Newcastle United were in the mid-noughties…
Our legendary former attacker Terry McDermott worked as Kevin Keegan’s assistant at St. James’ Park and has recounted how the club sold James Milner to Aston Villa when he worked there.
Apparently, Newcastle sold Milner on the premise that Bastian Schweinsteiger, then world-class, was lined up to replace him, only for Bayern Munich to laugh in their face.
This kind of embarrassing mismanagement from the club’s hierarchy caused Keegan to quit days afterwards.
“We were actually at the club when we sold him [Milner], myself and Kevin Keegan,” McDermott told the 5Times Podcast, cited in the Echo.
“We sold him for 15 million quid. The story goes – and this is a true story – we didn’t want him to leave but we needed to get other players in because we’d had a bid of 15 million quid.
“Kevin said ‘if we sell him for 15 million quid, how are we going to replace him?’
“They said ‘we’ve already got one – Schweinsteiger’. (He’s at Man United now but seven or eight years ago he was a superstar and they said we could get him…)
“The idea was accepting the bid of 15 million for Milner, which was a lot of money then – and then looking to get Schweinsteiger. It was a no brainer.
“But after he’s signed for Villa – the day after – we’re trying to sign Schweinsteiger and the answer was ‘absolutely no chance, it will cost you £50 million if you wanted to buy Schweinsteiger’.
“So we had no one to replace him. But he was irreplaceable anyway because he could play anywhere.”
Milner was amazing at Aston Villa, earning a blockbuster move to Manchester City where he won two Premier League titles. He’s now at Liverpool, performing an admirable job at left-back, but we’d have loved him to have been here for a much longer period.