Daniel Spillane discusses the appointment of Joe Kinnear as Newcastle FC’s Director of Football and what it means for the club.
When it was confirmed earlier this week that former Newcastle boss Joe Kinnear would return to the club as the club’s director of football and chief transfer administrator on a 3 year deal, it was met with some consternation and frustration amongst the Geordie faithful. In their eyes, yet again in the controversy-riddled past of the Magpies recent history has the clubs tyrant owner Mike Ashley made another questionable decision which has not gone down well with Newcastle’s fans. Surely such a decision could only act as the sharpening of the guillotine which is threatening to drop on the head of current manager Alan Pardew after the monstrosity of a season in 2012/13, which ended with Newcastle dangerously dancing with relegation and finishing in a disastrous 16th place?
If we are to glance at the decisions Ashley has made in the past, you will agree that the majority are truly cringe worthy to say the least. Since acquiring full control of the club in 2007, the founder of Sportdirect.com has managed to turn some fans away from the club with his policies, and showing some disrespect and a lack of interest in instances during his tenure. The lack of interest has been seen publicly on more than one occasion with the fact that he has tried to sell the club unsuccessfully and stated his regret at buying the club. His business mentality has crept into the running of the club and has proved soulless, most notably by changing the name of their stadium St. James Park to the “Sports Direct Arena”, a move which nearly cost the stadium its heritage and legacy, thus enraging the fans in the process. In relation to the Kinnear appointment, there is a sense of déjà vu if you are to reminisce on the departure of Kevin Keegan in 2008 after the introduction of Dennis Wise. This was then followed with the harsh sacking of Chris Hughton in 2010 only to be replaced by Alan Pardew. It seems Ashley has not dwelled on his errors.
Lets look at this hypothetically: if a director of football is appointed to a club, and is given the final say on what transfers happen in the club, it would presumably work quite well. The manager could fully concentrate on what tactics to employ for his squad while not having to worry and sweat on how much to pay for each player and trying to make a breakthrough deal with a perverse peer. But looking at it realistically, it just won’t be that easy. Kinnear himself is a former manager, and clearly from his recent comments, rates himself quite highly as one too. He will obviously have his own perspective on tactics and what players should be playing week after week. The transfer objectives of the club will ultimately come down to him, and should he not agree with Pardew’s transfer wishes, he is in the position to have the final say. It’s a recipe for disaster.
One must also ask, if the club found it necessary to appoint a ‘Director of Football’ (or manager elect for Pardew), why Joe Kinnear? The Dubliner has been setting a high bar for himself in the past few days, recalling the honours he has won as a player as well as mentioning his managerial career. While he may have a credible record as a player, his managerial record is debatable. His term with Wimbledon may have wielded success, but after he suffered a heart attack in 1999, he lost his charm and ability in the process. He had fruitless terms in charge of Luton Town and Nottingham, before taking over Newcastle in 08, only to again retire due to health reasons. So if you are to look at this record, he has not managed a team in the Premiership since 1999. If Kenny Dalglish’s tenure over Liverpool in 2011 is anything to go by, the moral is that managers who may have been successful in one era are not necessarily successful in another. And another thing Kinnear may live to regret in the not too distant future is his statement regarding the Toon fans, and how he thinks of himself as “having more intelligence than them”. Surely a person entering a new position in the club under controversial circumstances should be doing everything in his power to extend the olive branch to fans, not alienate them. Maybe a thorn in his argument is his suggestion that he signed current Toon keeper Tim Krul during his time in charge of Newcastle, despite the fact that Krul was signed in 2005, by Graeme Souness. How embarrassing…
So what does this all mean for Newcastle? You would have to assume that taking the power of transfers out of Alan Pardew’s hands can only have detrimental effects on his relationship with Mike Ashley. Pardew will want to match the heights reached by the Magpies in 2012 this season, and will feel that Ashley and Kinnear are silently waiting to capitalise on any error that he makes. Having the transfer power taken from him also suggests that Ashley is not happy with the signatures that Pardew has made in the past season, as well as selling talisman striker Demba Ba to Chelsea. Recent sources have suggested that Yohan Cabaye could be leaving the club, but when Kinnear came on board, he insisted Cabaye was not for sale. The news today that the clubs managing director Derek Llambias has left the club can only add to the speculation that there is unrest amongst the backroom team due to Kinnear’s selection. It is not now that you would expect to see any managerial departures happening at Tyneside, but should Newcastle have a rough start to the season, which begins with a game against Manchester City; it may not be long before Pardew is given the axe, and Kinnear steps up to the plate. Dark times ahead for the Toon should that eventually happen.
Sport Is Everything. Daniel Spillane.
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