Newcastle United’s pre-season is set to take another unusual twist today with Mick Harford expected to be officially announced as Joe Kinnear’s right-hand man at the club.
The former United and Sunderland player has been in talks over the last 48 hours to become assistant director of football at St James’ Park.
As soon as the news emerged yesterday morning, speculation immediately began that Kinnear and Harford were being lined up to replace Alan Pardew, although there has been no official word from Newcastle on the matter.
The 54-year-old Harford has a long association with Kinnear. The two worked together at Wimbledon, Luton and Nottingham Forrest when Harford was a coach working under the Irishman. He also managed himself at Rotherham, Luton and QPR.
Sunderland-born Harford spent a brief spell as a Newcastle player from August 1981 to March 1982.
He later went on to play for his hometown club among many others, including Chelsea and Luton where he enjoyed his best spell.
Harford, 54, spent a year as assistant to Karl Robinson at MK Dons. He left at the end of last season and was supposed to take up a coaching role at Millwall.
This is another unwanted distraction for Alan Pardew who is in Portugal with the first-team squad. Kinnear has stayed away from the team’s base in Braga.
It was unclear last night whether the manager knew of Hartford’s imminent appointment before yesterday morning.
Newcastle fans were left confused by their club’s latest move and remain unconvinced by owner Mike Ashley’s grand plan.
Kinnear has yet to deliver a signing and the Papiss Cisse situation – the practising Muslim refusing to wear Newcastle shirts with the Wonga logo on religious
grounds – shows no sign of being solved. Hatem Ben Arfa was again heavily linked with a move to Liverpool, while the club were waiting to learn the full extent of Shola Ameobi’s wrist injurypicked up in Saturday’s 3-1 defeat to Rio Ave.
There was a suggestion in the French media yesterday Bafetimbi Gomis, the Lyon striker Pardew has opened spoken about wanting, is keen on a move to Marseille.
However, he has spoken often this year about a move to the Premier League being a preferred option.
Pardew, however, remains delighted with the way pre-season has gone despite the lack of new faces and Saturday’s defeat in a friendly match.
The squad have been working on how to make the best out of their talents, which didn’t happen in the previous campaign.
Speaking to The Journal , Pardew said: “We have great technicians of a football within our squad. When we finished fifth we kept a lot of games tight and technical.
“That is where we let ourselves down last season. Games got too big, too open.
“That doesn’t suit the players we have. So it’s something we’ve been working on a lot.
“Players such as Yohan Cabaye, Hatem Ben Arfa and Sylvain Marveaux benefit from working on those tight areas. That’s where they excel.
“The word you will be looking for to describe training is focus. We have come off the back of a disappointing season and that, coupled with how it ended, means everyone is focused.”