Thirty years apart and the shared sense of optimism and rebirth is overwhelming. There’s been a lot of talk in the last couple of weeks about the parallels between the forthcoming season and the promotion year of 1992-93 that set everything in motion for the next five glorious, unforgettable years under Keegan. And understandably so.

Then and now, new owners and a new manager had faced down relegation the previous season. Then and now the summer allowed new players to come in ready for the real project to begin. Then (and hopefully now), once the momentum was unleashed it was unstoppable.

But there’s one crucial difference between the two situations, as superficially attractive as the comparison might seem. And to really understand that properly, we need to take a momentary detour through 20th-century history, with a little meander through the sociology of rule. Patience, it will be worth it!

At various points – and Germany in the 1930s is the most famous and extreme example– states have historically been in thrall to “charismatic authority”, a form of rule most famously analysed by the German sociologist Max Weber.

This is an intense form of leadership, focused on a single personality who inspires devotion, adoration even, from their followers. It creates a powerful, revolutionary system, but one that is also chaotic and structure-less.

What Keegan offered was the epitome of charismatic leadership, and John Hall too, albeit to a lesser extent. Players signed for Keegan. Players played for Keegan. For the persona, for the aura, for him and him alone. Off the pitch, we worshipped the Messiah. Everything that lifted us from the bottom of Division 2 to the brink of the Premier League title was driven by his sheer force of personality.

But, as Weber pointed out, the problem with charismatic authority is that it is impossible to sustain. Inevitably, it either becomes “routinised”, losing that revolutionary dynamic or it faces the impossible problem of finding a successor to the charismatic individual at the centre of the system.

The chaotic nature of the rule also eats away at the conventional structures of bureaucracy, making it even more difficult to sustain in the long term.

Of course, this was a characteristic of Keegan’s career everywhere he went, as player and manager. Two years at Hamburg, for example, two years at Southampton, and two at St James’s as a player starts to look like a pattern. And as a manager, it’s notable he was never sacked. At Newcastle United (twice), Fulham, England, and Man City, he resigned every time having reached the point where he felt he could take the team no further.

And first time around on Barrack Road, the incredible revolutionary momentum that was truly set in motion in August 1992 came at the expense of the conventional organisational structures of a football club. Long-term planning was neglected, the reserve team abandoned, and the youth system that had brought through Lee Clark, Steve Watson, Robbie Elliott, and Steve Howey dried up to nothing.

And this, of course, is the real difference between then and now. Up close, I don’t doubt Wor Eddie exudes a quiet intense authority, but he is no naturally charismatic leader. He is a system and details man, a planner, an obsessive who looks at the whole picture and its every component part. Famously, he oversaw almost every aspect of the club at Bournemouth, a product of the scale of the project and the financial problems he inherited.

And while it will take years of investment to make good the managed decline of the Ashley years, the appointment of Dan Ashworth and Darren Eales show a striking commitment to putting the right structures in place.

In particular, Ashworth’s CV with England and Brighton is all about building the system as a whole; he was the hub into which the other spokes connected. This is the complete antithesis of the club under Keegan and Hall.

Look elsewhere and the problem of succession is perhaps the most difficult problem of all to solve in football. Ferguson’s success at Old Trafford was unparalleled, but it did not insulate the club from the problem of succession that it’s still grappling with 9 years, 6 managers, and £1 billion of players later.

In much the same way, of course, Matt Busby gave way to Wilf McGuinness, Frank O’Farrell, relegation, and the worst period faced by Man U in the last 50 years. The cult of (football) personality has its serious downside.

Nothing would bring me greater pleasure than seeing Eddie Howe achieve what no Newcastle United manager has achieved for almost 70 years, probably more than a century if we ever get as far as the league title. He will have deserved it. But our future does not rest only on his.

And, for that reason, whatever happens on Saturday, across the season as a whole, and beyond, stressing the similarities to Southend at home 30 years ago is ultimately misleading.

As exhilarating and unforgettable as they were – and I would not swap them for the world – those days were always destined to be a brief interlude, an illusion that would evaporate as quickly as it appeared.

Things are different now.

Matthew Philpotts @mjp19731