Alan Pardew appears to have won a major battle at Newcastle United following Joe Kinnear's resignation as the club's director of football late on Monday night.
Two transfer windows have passed since Kinnear's controversial appointment by the Newcastle owner, Mike Ashley, last summer without the club making a single permanent signing.
Although Loïc Rémy – last summer –and Luuk de Jong – last week – have arrived on loan, the anxiety about the one-time Tottenham full-back turned Wimbledon, Luton, Nottingham Forest and, briefly, Newcastle manager’s ability to fulfil his job description was escalating.
Asked if Newcastle were capable of making permanent signings following Saturday’s 3-0 home defeat to Sunderland, Pardew replied, eventually: “I’ve got no comment to make on that one.”
Evidently deeply unhappy with the failure of Kinnear and Ashley to heed his advice to sign a replacement for Yohan Cabaye, who joined Paris Saint-Germain for €24 million last week, Pardew – who against all odds has guided the team to eighth in the Premier League – made his position clear.
“I’m a professional manager,” said the man who had urged the club’s hierarchy to reinvest part of the Cabaye money in the Lyon midfielder Clément Grenier. “If I was in charge, solely, of transfers things might be different. I think I’ve made my opinions very clear this week and all the rest is confidential.”
Pardew was dismayed last summer when, four years after resigning as Kevin Keegan’s ill-starred successor due to poor health, Ashley appointed Kinnear as his director of football.
The 67-year-old former Republic of Ireland international – previously most notable on Tyneside for swearing profusely at journalists – not only announced the news ahead of an official statement from the club but gave a remarkable radio interview in which he mispronounced the names of several players – Cabaye was called Yohan Kebab – and claimed credit for signing the goalkeeper Tim Krul, who had in fact been recruited by Graeme Souness.
Kinnear also called Derek Llambias, the former Newcastle managing director and a key Pardew ally, Derek "Lambezeee" in addition to boasting he possessed a hotline to virtually any manager in the world and was "more intelligent" than Newcastle fans. Llambias resigned with immediate effect, leaving the team's manager appearing vulnerable and isolated.
With Kinnear one of Ashley’s few close friends in football and a regular drinking companion of the owner in the area surrounding their respective north London homes, Pardew looked, initially at least, to be on borrowed time.
In reality the streetwise former Reading, West Ham, Charlton and Southampton manager boxed clever in order to preserve a post he prizes. It has helped that a team which dallied with relegation last spring has an outside chance of qualifying for Europe but it seems Ashley had no appetite to break his manager’s long-term contract at St James’ Park. With Pardew retaining the support of the media and, increasingly, Newcastle supporters it was significant that following Saturday’s defeat to Sunderland the majority of angry chants from home fans were directed towards Kinnear.
Those fans were well aware that Bafétimbi Gomis, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Darren Bent, Florian Thauvin, Rémy Cabella and Grenier represented only a handful of the players Kinnear had pursued but failed to secure during his eight month tenure.