Just as the Newcastle faithful were starting to recover from a troublesome and traumatic season, in walks Joe Kinnear to take up a position again at the club. Luckily he is not replacing Alan Pardew as manager but instead he is taking up the role of Director of Football, recently vacated by Derek Llambias. The former coach, who left his job as manager in 2009 following his second heart attack, is not exactly well loved by the Geordie faithful who remember all too well what happened the last time he was in town. Not only the relegation which to be fair to Kinnear wasn’t totally his fault as Alan Shearer will testify, but in the way that he behaved and the impact it had on the club, ranting to the media on more than one occasion.
Unfortunately four years on and Kinnear hasn’t changed, this time surprising many including the club by announcing to the media on Sunday of his appointment instead of waiting until Tuesday for the official one. Kinnear reminded anyone who tuned into his recent TalkSport interview of his qualities and stats as a manager, even if some were slightly exaggerated like his three manager of the year awards (really only one) or his ability to find gems in the transfer market to sign like Tim Krul and James Perch (signed by Graeme Souness and Chris Hughton respectively). And his inability to pronounce player’s names resurfaced, with the likes of “Yohan Cabab” and “Haten Ben Afre” touted as Newcastle’s best players will send shivers down the spine of many of the Geordie faithful and even some of the squad.
If nothing else Kinnear is entertaining, a delightful reminder of football in the 1990’s when Wimbledon were a force to reckon with (and still played in London for that matter). He is what some would call old school, bragging about glory days that are now reserved for the history books rather than relevant in modern day football. Rather than being diplomatic in his retorts to the media, Kinnear goes on the offensive, often over shooting and overplaying his hand. Asked by a journalist what he can bring to Newcastle, Kinnear snapped back that he can open any door to any manager in the world, bragging again that he speaks weekly to Sir Alex Ferguson and has Arsene Wenger on speed dial. Again relevant ten years ago but perhaps no one has told him that the United chief has now retired?
Despite all the jokes that are flying around about the Kinnear appointment, there is a more unsettling though that emerges. Newcastle, since its relegation and subsequent promotion back from the Championship have acted like a different club. A smarter one some may say with a clear strategy to no longer pay over the odds for 30 something players, instead focusing on young talented players who will give their all for the club and pull in the same direction. In Alan Pardew they have found a manager with common sense, who can bond the team together and push the club forward (despite the glitch in the last six months of the previous campaign). Even owner Mike Ashley appeared to have read the memo about how to run a successful and profitable club, disregarding many peoples skepticism by planning for the future and handing Pardew and key staff like super scout Graham Carr eight year contracts. For the first time in a long time the club appeared to be putting the past behind it and moving on.
But now as Joe Kinnear takes his seat in preparation for next season, many people are wondering what will happen next? With Kinnear in charge of player acquisitions and strategy, what does it mean for Carr and his staff? Will the current strategy of cherry picking the best emerging players in the French league be shelved in favour of a new strategy devised by Kinnear with his 1990s cap on? And what does it mean for Pardew, who won manager of the year two seasons ago but suffered last year due to a gruelling Europa League campaign and lack of squad depth. Will he be choosing the team or will Kinnear who stated he has unfinished business at St James. If Pardew fails to deliver in the first part of the next season, will we see his dismissal and a return to the dugout for Kinnear?
Kinnear could surprise many and provide the assistance that Pardew needs in order to get his squad ready for next season. The appointment could be a revelation of sorts, bringing experienced opinions to the hierarchy at Newcastle and sorting out problems that Ashley creates with the players by accepting shirt sponsorship deals from a money lending company like Wonga. Or his appointment could be a disaster on the Dennis Wise scale, with players, staff and the manager making for the exit door. No one is really sure what the future holds for Newcastle but everyone is on tenterhooks to find out. One thing is for certain that Kinnear will be at the centre of anything that does happen over the next few weeks at St James Park.
To hear Joe Kinnear’s TalkSport interview, click here: http://www.talksport.co.uk/radio/andy-goldsteins-sports-bar/130617/joe-kinnear-his-newcastle-return-alan-pardew-and-toon-media-199848
To hear Joe Kinnear’s famous rant to the media, click here (Explicit language): http://www.mirror.co.uk/sport/football/news/joe-kinnear-rant-listen-full-1957960