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Keegan leaves Man City hotseat


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Kevin Keegan's three-and-a-half year reign at Manchester City has come to an end and the Eastlands club has put Stuart Pearce in charge of first-team affairs until the end of the season.

Keegan has left City by "mutual agreement", despite still having almost a year-and-a-half to run on his contract which he had indicated last year would be his last in English football management.

Following the 54-year-old former England, Newcastle United and Fulham boss's departure, the men from the City of Manchester Stadium said: "Manchester City announces that by mutual agreement our manager Kevin Keegan will leave the club with immediate effect. We all believe this is in the best interests of the club.

"Kevin's professionalism, infectious enthusiasm and drive for success have benefited all areas of the club. The board and staff of the football club would like to thank Kevin for his valued contribution to all aspects of our organisation and wish him and his family all the very best for the future...

"Kevin has taken the club from the uncertainty created following our relegation to Division One, winning the First Division title with tremendous style, through to the longest spell the club has spent in the Premiership. He has brought stability to a club that was very much in need of solidity and consolidation."

The names of the likes of Celtic boss Martin O'Neill, Bolton Wanderers manager Sam Allardyce, Crystal Palace's Iain Dowie and former Southampton and Coventry City chief Gordon Strachan are all being bandied around as possible long-term successors to Keegan.

Keegan succeeded Joe Royle in the City hotseat in May 2001 and immediately guided the club back to the Premiership in his first season in charge.

City finished ninth on their return to the top-flight and qualified to play in the Uefa Cup the following season by virtue of the Intertoto Cup.

However, they could only finish 16th in the table last season and Keegan's refusal to consider extending his stay at the City of Manchester Stadium beyond 2006 made his position at the club increasingly untenable.

City's slim hopes of challenging for a Uefa Cup spot appeared to come to an end on Monday night when they suffered their 11th league defeat of the campaign at home to Bolton.

Former England defender Pearce, who has been working as part of Keegan's backroom staff at Eastlands, has been placed in charge of first-team affairs until the end of the season. And his first task will be to lift City in time for their trip to Tottenham Hotspur next weekend.

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