Martin Keown explains why he once turned Newcastle down, slams struggling trio

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The former defender once could have joined Newcastle United from Arsenal, while he has criticised their current underperformers.

Former Arsenal centre-back Martin Keown says he was once sounded out by Graeme Souness about the prospect of joining Newcastle.

He turned the club down, however, because Keown was cemented at the Gunners at the time.

What struck the defender about Newcastle then was the atmosphere and passion at the club. That's a far cry from nowadays.

He said during a Tackle Keown session on the Daily Mail website: "Whenever I went to Newcastle the atmosphere and passion at the club was always awesome. Graeme Souness sounded me out about the possibility of going there towards the end of my career and it was a tempting offer but I was cemented at Arsenal.

"But it was the kind of club where fans expect you to fight for the cause. It doesn’t look like anybody is fighting to play for Newcastle right now."

As a tough-tackling, no-nonsense centre-back, Keown has unsurprisingly been disappointed by Newcastle defender Fabricio Coloccini so far this season. But he's also criticised Moussa Sissoko and Georginio Wijnaldum.

Keown told the Mail: "Moussa Sissoko is flattering to deceive and Georginio Wijnaldum scored on the opening day but we have not seen much since.

"And I’d like to see far more from captain Fabricio Coloccini. He has plenty of experience but he still seems to make elementary mistakes In terms of his positioning. He relies on his mobility, strength and instinct but he doesn’t seem to understand where he needs to be on the pitch. At a certain age less is more and he needs to occupy space better."

What's next for Newcastle after yet more poor displays?

Can Steve McClaren get anything out of the side? Will the likes of Coloccini and Sissoko step up despite struggling for several months at St James' Park?

It's a dark time for the Magpies and, as discussed among fans, the radio waves, and on social media, many supporters are now torn - do they still blame owner Mike Ashley or, after being given so much time to spend and also failing at Derby County, is it only McClaren (and his players) to blame?

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