Joe Kinnear’s chaotic tenure ends after shambles of a transfer window
A year has passed since Newcastle last signed a senior player on a permanent deal
Newcastle owner Mike Ashley and Joe Kinnear
Joe Kinnear’s old office at Newcastle United is likely to remain empty for some time as Mike Ashley, the club’s owner, seems in no hurry to appoint a director of football.
With Kinnear resigning from that role on Monday night and Derek Llambias, who stepped down from the more influential managing director’s post last summer, having never been replaced, there is a vacuum at the top of one of England’s biggest clubs. Significantly a year has passed since Newcastle last signed a new senior player on a permanent contract.
Lee Charnley, the club secretary, will lead transfer negotiations supported by John Irving, the finance director, but both men are administrators rather than strategists. Ashley has a history of hiring only people he knows and trusts and is unlikely to recruit from outside. Moreover if, as is being suggested, he is preparing to sell Newcastle, extra executives would be superfluous.
Charnley and Irving may be part of a minimalist hierarchy but at least the two of them are expected to be more effective than Kinnear, whose failure to make a single signing during the last two transfer windows appears the reason why he has lost his job.
When the director of football travelled to Tyneside from his London home on Monday for a meeting with Charnley observers suspected he was trying to sell the Senegal striker Papiss Cisse to a club in either Turkey or Russia where transfer windows remained open. Instead Charnley offered Kinnear an exit strategy, thereby ending the former Newcastle, Nottingham Forest, Luton Town and Wimbledon manager’s confusing eight-month tenure which had often sunk into chaos.
Kinnear’s arrival prompted Llambias’s resignation and almost precipitated the departure of Graham Carr, Newcastle’s much coveted chief scout. Alan Pardew, the manager, was required to pacify a dressing room appalled by the 67-year-old’s installation.
When Kinnear mis-pronounced several players’ names – Yohan Cabaye became Yohan “Kebab” – during an excruciating radio interview which should have made his position untenable, Pardew convened a squad meeting intended to quell any revolt. Kinnear also claimed credit for signing the goalkeeper Tim Krul, who had been recruited by Graeme Souness.
He called Llambias “Lambezee” and claimed to be “more intelligent” than Newcastle fans and said he regarded criticism as “water off a duck’s arse”. Llambias’s resignation left the always vulnerable Pardew to cut an isolated figure heavily tipped for the sack and seemingly on borrowed time. Having placated Cabaye – who joined Paris Saint-Germain for €24 million last week – Newcastle’s manager staked out his territory in the club’s often awkward “coalition government”.
Many were unsure exactly what Kinnear did. Indeed, although Newcastle built him a lavish office he was rarely seen and, despite much talk of scouting missions, he tended to remain in London, making the occasional trip.
When he went to watch a game at Birmingham, he was reported to praise the left-sided performance of Shane Ferguson. It was then pointed out to Kinnear that Ferguson was a Newcastle player on loan with Lee Clark’s side.
With Newcastle eighth in the Premier League, the sports retailer is probably content not to have re-invested the Cabaye cash but his loyalty to his long-standing friend Kinnear was already stretched by a host of negative feedback allied to fans threatening not to renew season tickets.