( AFP ) - Kevin Keegan admits he faces a long and difficult task to breathe life into Newcastle United after his first game back in charge ended in huge anti-climax.
Keegan's return for a second spell in the managerial hotseat turned into more of a damp squib as his out of touch side were easily held to a dour 0-0 stalemate by Premier League strugglers Bolton Wanderers.
The ambitious new manager has outlined his long-term aims to break back into the top four and end the 53-year wait for a major domestic trophy.
But those goals appear a world away after a dispirited display from depleted hosts lacking any semblance of the attacking flair that marked Keegan's reign in the 1990s, when they ran Manchester United to the wire in a thrilling title race 12 years ago.
The former England head coach said: "It was a frustrating result because we certainly didn't play as well as we can do or as well I thought we would.
"There's room for improvement because our players are better than they showed today.
"But if you look at the team sheet, we were right down to the bare bones, those were the only players available to me. We're without nine players and if you take nine out of a club that makes it hard.
"We looked tired. I'd hoped the tremendous atmosphere would lift them.
"We defended well but we didn't deserve to win, and a draw was a fair result. We didn't have enough to beat them and changing things will not be an overnight process."
This latest disappointment leaves Newcastle anchored in mid-table without a victory in half a dozen league games and closer to the bottom three than the top six.
Keegan, who has revealed to friends that he has a 'bottomless pit' of funds at his disposal, is clearly in urgent need of accessing the sizeable transfer kitty made available by billionaire owner Mike Ashley.
But with less than a fortnight remaining of the current transfer window, he needs to act quickly to bolster a squad in dire need of reinforcements with the three new signings he has earmarked.
Hinting that his targets are ones with Premier League experience, he added: "I'm not desperate to get new players in but we want to add to we've got.
"New arrivals need a settling in period because this is a different league and some even great players have come here and struggled. I prefer to bring in players who don't need settling in."
Keegan continues to work on assembling his back-room staff, which is expected to include former Newcastle striker Les Ferdinand.
Sources suggest the manager has cooled on his initial intention to involve Alan Shearer, and he said: "I've not spoken to Alan yet, but I've already said enough on that subject."
Bolton were denied an injury-time winner by Shay Given's save from Jlloyd Samuel, but a share of the spoils lifts them a point above the drop zone in a congested bottom eight.
Manager Gary Megson, who handed starts to new signings Matt Taylor and Gretar Steinsson, backed Keegan to transform Newcastle's fortunes, but is adamant he must be given time to do so.
"Kevin will turn it round, but not in the short-term," said Megson.
"He wouldn't have come here unless he'd got guarantees about the kind of player he can go for and I'm sure Newcastle will be up there challenging the big boys before long."