The surprise appointment of Kevin Keegan as Newcastle United's new manager has been accompanied by copious use of the words "Messiah" and "saviour". Even the club's official website broke the news under the headline "Geordie Messiah to be unveiled as new manager." Newcastle's fans are now labelled "disciples", the appointment represents a "second coming" (or third, to be precise), and Keegan is expected to become the "saviour" of a club without a major trophy since 1955, despite the fact that his greatest achievement last time around was blowing 12 point Christmas-time lead at the top of the Premier League. According to Gary Lineker, Newcastle have not one Messiah, but two – he turned to Alan Shearer on Match of the Day last night with the words "from one Messiah to another".
All this got us thinking, what's the actual definition of a "Messiah", and how does it fit those myriad individuals labelled as such by the media, themselves, or in certain cases, holy books?
The Free Online Dictionary defines "Messiah" as "One who is anticipated as, regarded as, or professes to be a saviour or liberator". Which given Newcastle's current league position may just prove to be true of Keegan by the time the season draws to a close in May. The OED goes with "liberator of oppressed people or country", which may not fit "King Kev" quite so well. The Geordie fans may have had a tough 50 years, but we're not so sure they fit the criteria for an "oppressed people".
To help reach a decision on Keegan's anointed status, we thought we'd pose a question to readers of this blog. Who's most deserving of the title "Messiah"? Choose from the following and cast your vote at the top right of this page: