Newcastle fans turned their anger on owner Mike Ashley and director of football Dennis Wise last night after manager Kevin Keegan confirmed his resignation.
Keegan brought to an end days of uncertainty over his future by announcing his departure, citing interference from the board over player recruitment.
Crisis talks over the previous 72 hours failed to reach a peaceful outcome, and the club were left to reluctantly accept the so-called Geordie Messiah had walked out on the job for the second time in his career.
The 57-year-old’s exit leaves Ashley and Wise in a precarious situation: already unpopular with supporters, they will now bear the blame for Keegan’s departure just eight months after he came out of retirement to manage the club he once played for.
It would seem only a spectacular gesture can redeem the owner who, in the past at least, enjoyed sitting among the club’s faithful at matches.
Furious fans chanted anti-Ashley and Wise songs outside St James’s Park last night, and there are plans to stage anti-Ashley demonstrations, including a boycott of the next home game, against Hull on 13 September.
Echoing Alan Curbishley’s exit from West Ham just 24 hours earlier, Keegan blamed his resignation on being denied full control of transfers.
Keegan said: “It’s my opinion that a manager must have the right to manage and that clubs should not impose upon any manager any player that he does not want. I have been left with no choice other than to leave.”
Wise and fellow Ashley aide Tony Jimenez, not Keegan, are said to have engineered the transfer deadline day arrivals of Spanish striker Xisco and midfielder Ignacio Gonzalez.
Newcastle said: “Newcastle United Football Club is sad and disappointed that Kevin Keegan has resigned.”
“The club made it clear to Kevin that if he had any outstanding concerns on its proposals, he should raise them with the club. The club regrets that Kevin has, instead of taking up that offer, chosen to resign.”