How quickly time flies when you keep your mind stimulated. As of writing, there are only two weeks to go until Newcastle takes the pitch for the 2019/20 season. And as we inch closer to the start of the season, we continue with out countdown with the 1990s, a decade which saw the Hubble Space Telescope put into orbit, Operation Desert Storm and the death of Princess Diana.
The year is 1990, Newcastle United is still in the second division at the turn of the decade and manager Jim Smith has just replaced Willie McFaul, so what better way to get the decade stated than by going full Newcastle and go through a manager carousel? Jim Smith, after taking over for Willie McFaul in ‘89, leaves the club at the start of the 1991/2 season and is replaced by the Argentinian manager, Osvaldo Ardiles. In 1992, Sir John Hall becomes club chairman and replaces Ardiles with Kevin Keegan. Rumor has it, Hall replaced Ardiles only 36 hours after telling him that his job was indeed safe. With Keegan at the helm, Newcastle stave off relegation from the second division.
With the club now safe from relegation, Keegan’s attention turned to promotion. In order to do so, the club gave Keegan an increase in his transfer budget. The result: English midfielders Rob Lee and Paul Bracewell and English defender Barry Venison. That very same year, Newcastle United won the First Division Championship and earned promotion to the then brand new Premier League.
Newcastle would continue to ride this momentum in the 1993/4 season, finishing 3rd in the league standings, the highest league finish the club has had in decades. Newcastle would continue to finish near the top of the table every season for the next few seasons, but Newcastle wasn’t satisfied just yet, as on July 30th, 1996, Newcastle would sign Alan Shearer for a world record breaking transfer fee of £15 million.
The high wouldn’t last long however, as Keegan would leave the club in ‘97 and would be replaced with Kenny Dalglish. The following season Newcastle’s momentum would come to a halt as not only did the club finish 13th in the league tables, but also failed to advance past group stage in that year’s UEFA Champions League despite beating FC Barcelona and Dynamo Kiev at St. James’ Park. They would also lose in the 1998 FA Cup final to Arsenal 2-0.
Early into the following season, Newcastle would once again start up the manager carousel as they replaced Dalglish with Dutch manager Ruud Gullit. Newcastle would again finish 13th and once again lose in the FA Cup Final, this time time to Manchester United 2-0. Gullit would come into conflict with the club and would quit just four games into the 1999/00 season. At this point, it seemed the manager carousel would continue to spin forever. That was until Newcastle announced that Sir Bobby Robson was made manager of the club.
The 90s were a decade that started slow but picked up quickly, with the club not only gaining promotion to the top division once more but finding success at the top for most of the decade. It wasn’t until Keegan left that Newcastle’s success started to slow down a bit. But as fate would have it, the football gods would smile upon Newcastle and deliver one of the greatest managers in the club’s history.