JOE Kinnear was given categorical assurances that he would have complete control over Newcastle United’s January transfer dealings before he agreed to sign a contract until the end of the season.
Kinnear demanded the final say over comings and goings as one of the terms of agreeing to stay on until May – and the fact that he has been granted such a veto represents an acknowledgement on the part of the Mike Ashley regime they made mistakes during Kevin Keegan’s time at the club.
Keegan left Newcastle because players were brought into the club without his approval at the end of the summer transfer window – sparking the chain of events that led to Ashley putting the club up for sale.
On another eventful day at St James’s Park it also emerged that Alan Shearer has turned down Kinnear’s offer of a coaching role at Newcastle, and that midfielder Joey Barton may require surgery on his injured knee ligaments. The midfielder, who is on crutches, was sent for scans this week and it will be at least another six weeks before he can join the team for training.
It is the decision to bow to Kinnear’s insistence that he must have final say on player comings and goings that illustrates the change in approach at boardroom level at St James’s Park, however, and tacit admission that big mistakes were made this summer.
“I have asked for assurances and that will not happen to me. That was one of the things I spoke about,” Kinnear said after being confirmed as Newcastle’s boss until the end of the season. “Every signing who comes in in the New Year will be a Joe Kinnear signing, absolutely. No one will go without my say so either. 100%, I have cleared that at boardroom level.
“I just said I feel it is much easier and healthier when everyone knows what their job details are and my job is to get the players that I want in to make Newcastle a lot better team than it is at present.
“But then the board make money available and they will give the task to Dennis Wise to go and negotiate and hopefully bring the player in. I put that to the board and they were happy with it. It was a term of my taking the job. If I am going to be here until the end of the season, I have to be in total control.
“Obviously I need help so Dennis (Wise) is in a position to chase up the players I want but I will hang my hat on those players. There ain’t going to be any mix-up about who signed them. Only me.”
Perhaps acknowledging the perilous situation Newcastle find themselves in, Ashley has backed down on his previous
threat to not make new funds available for transfers. And he will also sanction funds to finance a new contract for Michael Owen – with Kinnear saying he is “80% certain” that the striker will sign a new deal before the New Year.
Certainly the threat of relegation will have influenced Ashley’s thinking on both the new funds pledge and also the decision to grant Kinnear powers that Keegan did not have. I have got my conditions granted but I am quite a sensible guy as far as getting the message over to Mike. I made it quite clear it was in his interests as well and everyone would benefit from us getting stronger,” he said.
“I would not know what price the club would be worth if it went down. It would be a massive loss I would have thought. I explained to Mike, he needs to protect the assets that he has got.
“The only way to protect that is to invest and make sure we are not in the bottom three at end of season.”
Kinnear, who will move to Jesmond Dene after staying in a hotel for the duration of his stay so far, hopes to make a play to land the job beyond the end of the campaign.
“I have been given this chance so far and, touch wood, I assume that is exactly what will happen, that I will be given a chance,” he said.