Mark Douglas: A dark chapter in Newcastle United's history has come to an end

Mark Douglas, chief sports writer for The Journal, gives his view on Joe Kinnear's resignation and looks back at his eight months as Director of Football at St James' Park

Joe Kinnear, Director of Football at Newcastle United
Joe Kinnear, Director of Football at Newcastle United

To some, it is the resignation of a man who did absolutely nothing and will be missed even less.

In reality, Joe Kinnear’s eight months in charge have been bruising, baffling and ultimately a backward step for Newcastle United.

It is to be hoped that his resignation – in the cold light of day his position as Director of Football had become untenable – is the beginning of something more positive at St James’ Park, in whatever shape or form.

Kinnear was a man who lost his mobile phone within weeks of taking the job.

A man who was utterly baffled by modern deal-making, infuriating Yohan Cabaye with the way he handled Arsenal’s interest.

A man who told club staff behind-closed-doors in January that Newcastle were going to spend big on a player when he had neither the tools, the contacts or the wit to do so.

The stories are enough to make you wince every bit as much as that infamous Talksport interview.

 

His appointment was dropped on Newcastle staff - who had no knowledge of the meeting at the Orange Tree pub in Totteridge that heralded his arrival.

They had to scramble to repair the damage done not only by the fact he had got the job but also by the nuclear chat that he had with Bobby Gould and Andy Goldstein on talk radio.

Those mispronunciations of key players and mistruths meant that he could never win an already sceptical fanbase over.

If Mike Ashley had any sense, he would have ended the whole farce there and then. Instead it dragged on for eight months, encompassing zero permanent signings, a regional press ban that he put his name to and a step back into the footballing dark ages in the way the club operated.

When Derek Llambias was managing director, it was hardly all sweetness and light. But he oversaw the permanent transfers of Papiss Cisse, Yohan Cabaye and Mathieu Debuchy (eventually).

He spoke of a progression plan whereby there were three targets for every position, just in case Newcastle got an offer they could not refuse.

What happened to that? Cabaye went and there was no-one coming in and never any prospect of anyone.

Kinnear was about as comfortable working with the pirahnas of French football as he was on the radio.

The remit, as I understood it, was meant to encompass the reserve team, the Academy and the football infrastructure. Kinnear was virtually never at the training ground.

He never went further than Belgium or France and had never met Loic Remy before the handshake photos and quotes that accompanied his signing.

 

By the end, he hardly even spoke to boss Alan Pardew.

Yet until yesterday he was still Ashley’s man, which created problems of its own.

How to work to the whims of a man who shouldn’t be in the job he’s in? It proved impossible for the many good and talented people who are still on United’s payroll.

No wonder Newcastle have been so chaotic since the summer when he was in charge.

He had no other option yesterday but to step down but there are still so many issues to resolve at St James’ Park.

The whispers are mounting again that Ashley will sell if a bidder emerges; this latest episode having resulted in further disillusionment.

That is given credence by some people looking into the club from the outside but as ever, it is a question of someone willing to do a deal Ashley wants.

The alternative theory is that Ashley has been prompted into action by reports of season tickets being cancelled.

This would suggest there are further changes afoot and that we should stand by our beds for more potentially transformative news.

Either way, it feels significant that a dark chapter in Newcastle’s history has come to the abrupt and ignominious end that it deserved.

Journalists

David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer