JOE Kinnear hopes his temporary spell in charge of Newcastle United could provide him with a more permanent route back into football and, with Mike Ashley apparently struggling to sell the club, he may get his wish sooner than expected.
Last month Kinnear (pictured left) was appointed United’s interim manager but after only one game in official charge, it has already been suggested that the former Republic of Ireland international could be given the job until the end of the season.
Kinnear did an impressive job while manager of Wimbledon in the 1990s but has been out of management since leaving Nottingham Forest in 2004, with chairmen seemingly scared off by the two heart attacks he suffered. But even aged 61, Kinnear sees his temporary appointment as an opportunity to return to the game full-time.
“After leaving Forest I was driven mad, hearing that people were saying, ‘He’s got a dodgy ticker,
he’s got to take it easy’,” he said. “It’s rubbish. I’m feeling great. I don’t mind being judged on results, but let’s forget the medical thing.
“Whatever happens, it’s a great chance for me to put my name back in the frame and, if I do a good job, who knows what might be around the corner?” When Kinnear arrived at St James’s Park he was bullish about Ashley selling the club quickly but, with the global economic crisis worsening by the day, that optimism seems to have evaporated.
The deadline for firm bids for United has been put back until Friday but last week Keith Harris, the man charged with finding a new buyer for the Magpies, told The Journal even that may not be met. Quite apart from the cash-flow problems hitting would-be buyers, there are a number of alternatives on the market.
Unconfirmed newspaper reports yesterday had West Ham United’s asking price at £50m because of the financial problems which have enveloped owner Bjorgulfur Gudmundsson. Everton are also for sale and, despite initially being courted by Ashley, Dubai-based Zabeel Investments have bid for Charlton Athletic instead.
Ashley put the club up for sale after losing the confidence of supporters last month. They demanded the billionaire’s departure after Kevin Keegan left Newcastle in a dispute over his role as manager. But Ashley has always insisted he will not sell for the sake of it and he is holding out for what he sees as the right price.
The indications are that if Ashley and Kinnear are still at the club in January, the latter may have to sell players to change his squad as transfer funds are unlikely to be made available. But Kinnear’s abrasive style already appears to have had a galvanising effect on the players he has inherited, another reason why an extended contract is under consideration.
“Joe hasn’t been with us very long but if there is one thing we have learned about him it’s that he is very much a man’s man,” United centre-back Steven Taylor explained. “He takes no prisoners. Let’s just say he wants us to be more aggressive.”
Kinnear’s preparations for United’s next game, at home to Manchester City a week today, have been helped by a lack of international call-ups for his players.
Geremi was the only Newcastle player on full international duty at the weekend, playing for Cameroon in their 5-0 victory over Mauritius. Fabricio Coloccini travelled to Buenos Aires, but only to watch Argentina’s 2-1 victory over Uruguay from the bench.
Shay Given and Damien Duff had a weekend off ahead of the Republic of Ireland’s home game against Cyprus this week, while Xisco was limited to an 18-minute substitute appearance in Spain Under-21s’ win over Switzerland.