MIKE Ashley has shaken Newcastle United’s foundations to the core by bringing Joe Kinnear back to the club as new Director of Football, with the former Wimbledon boss claiming he will now have “final say” on transfers.
In a day of shocking developments at St James’ Park, Kinnear himself confirmed the appointment – which was rubber-stamped on Saturday – and said the three-year contract had been “three weeks” in the making.
It is understood to be a reaction to the poor campaign that Newcastle had suffered and will see Kinnear based in the North East and in close contact with key figures including Alan Pardew, Graham Carr and Lee Charnley on a day-to-day basis.
Kinnear is the owner’s closest ally in football and this is an Ashley-driven appointment with many key club employees in shock at the news – and fans reacting with outrage at the return of the man who was first appointed in 2008.
With supporters still digesting the news, Kinnear gave a wide-ranging interview in which he claimed to have assumed huge authority over transfers and many major aspects of the day-to-day running of the club. However he said there would be no issues with Pardew, who he will meet for lunch today.
Pardew was not answering calls last night although sources close to him said that he had been aware of the appointment before it was made. Similarly Carr’s role as chief scout is not understood to be affected, with his remit staying the same. Although he says he has final say on any deals The Journal understands Kinnear will simply join the discussions on transfers, which have been a collaborative effort since the Chris Hughton era.
Quite what his other day-to-day responsibilities – barring being Ashley’s eyes and ears at the training ground - are will emerge in time. A bullish
Kinnear – who said he felt “fit as a fiddle” and is in the “best physical condition” of his life – confirmed the move last night and predicted major changes over the summer.
“It’s been an ongoing situation for three weeks. My role will be to be in charge of transfers and looking at what the strengths and weaknesses of the side that we’ve got and to help out Alan Pardew in every way I can and to use my experience and everything I’ve learned in the game. It’s a very interesting role and I don’t believe I could be at a better club to do it.
“Alan is aware of the situation. I’m hoping to meet him over some lunch to discuss the forthcoming season. I’d like to get out of the blocks very early. It’s very important when you see the strength of the Premier League and so many being signed by the top six or seven.
“There are no issues. My job is quite clear. I’m Director of Football, he’s manager. I’m not picking the team, that’s what the manager gets paid for. I’m there to ensure he gets the best possible team on pitch. Tactics and coaching are strictly down to him. If has questions, he’ll ask them and I’ll answer them.”
Kinnear is coming back to the club where he famously took on the media with a bullish first Press conference. He said that returning to United will hold no fears for him.
“I think I’m ideal for this situation. I’m going to love being back up in Newcastle,” he said.
“I’m looking forward to it. I got to know Newcastle inside out during my two years there (sic), I got to know where they were coming from. The disappointing thing that I didn’t realise before I went up there – but now I am aware – is that Geordies are Geordies. They want people from that area to work for that club.
“But like what’s happening in the Premier League, we’ve got numerous managers coming from all walks of life and all parts of the world working for clubs. Would Newcastle object to someone coming in who is Spanish? Because I wasn’t a Geordie that went against me but my record is there for all to see. Half of the stuff that was written was disappointing.
“What I can offer is that I believe I’m a very good judge of players, I believe I’m a good tactician. I intend to make Newcastle far better than there are. now.
“I think I’ve got a bright head, can see a good player and get the right players in to make us successful.
“If I see players at the club and don’t think they’re good enough I intend to move them on.”
THE UPS AND DOWNS OF JOE KINNEAR'S FIRST STINT AT NEWCASTLE UNITED
September 26, 2008: Kinnear is announced as the shock “interim manager” of Newcastle United, replacing Kevin Keegan – who later wins an industrial tribunal claiming constructive dismissal.
September 29, 2008: It is revealed that Kinnear faces a two-match touchline ban that is hanging over him from his time at Nottingham Forest.
October 2, 2008: Rails against what he considers to be unfair press coverage by swearing 52 times at assembled journalists. Claims he will never talk to reporters again.
October 5, 2008: Newcastle gain a spirited 2-2 draw at Everton, fighting back from two down. Kinnear does address journalists afterwards.
October 28, 2008: Kinnear’s first win in charge comes courtesy of a Joey Barton penalty as United beat West Brom 2-1 to record their second victory of the campaign.
November 9, 2008: Kinnear calls Martin Atkinson a “Mickey Mouse” referee after Newcastle are beaten at Fulham.
November 28, 2008: Kinnear – who had been appointed as the interim boss – is confirmed as a Newcastle’s manager until the end of the season.
December 28, 2008: Newcastle lose 5-1 to Liverpool in their lowest moment of the Kinnear regime, prompting Shay Given to decide to leave the club.
January 30, 2009: Charles N’Zogbia (left) refuses to play for Kinnear again after claiming to be aggrieved at the boss calling him “Charlie Insomnia” on television. Kinnear sells N’Zogbia to Wigan while buying future captain Kevin Nolan (right) and Ryan Taylor.
February 5, 2009: Kinnear claims to have a “two-year” contract offer sitting in his desk drawer from Mike Ashley, which he will wait until the end of the season before signing.
February 7, 2009: Kinnear is rushed to hospital feeling unwell before the West Brom game. Despite his early assurances that he would be back in charge, he never returns and is replaced by Chris Hughton – before Alan Shearer takes over until the end of the season.