Joe Kinnear was asked to stand down by Mike Ashley after the Newcastle United owner became dismayed by the terms of the Yohan Cabaye sale, The Journal can reveal.
United announced Kinnear’s ‘resignation’ in an abrupt and pointed statement at 11pm on Monday evening but The Journal understands that he was asked to leave the club because the £20million deal was not to Ashley’s liking.
While he was happy with the valuation of the player, sources say the deal was not structured by Kinnear in the way that the owner was happy with – which was the final straw for a director of football who had been skating on thin ice for several months.
Cabaye’s sale banked Newcastle £20million with further add-ons to come, but he was United’s biggest asset. The player had not been happy with the way interest from Arsenal was handled in the summer and blamed the director of football for the fall-out which temporarily cost him his France place.
Kinnear’s unlamented departure brings an end to a chaotic eight-month spell at St James’ Park which was nothing less than shambolic from the moment that he put the club under pressure by giving an unauthorised interview before they had officially announced his appointment.
It also represents Ashley’s return to front-line Newcastle United business having been extremely low-key during a January transfer window in which the Magpies signed only one player – striker Luuk de Jong from Borussia Monchengladbach.
Although he continues to face fierce criticism for his approach to the club, the United owner had made funds available to sign players in the summer and over the winter window, with Newcastle having lined up Sporting Lisbon’s Diego Capel as one possible target.
Kinnear was completely unable to to do the deals that mattered, however, and he did not fulfil the wide-ranging remit that Ashley had envisaged when he employed a man he knew socially as they lived close to each other and professionally from his first spell at the club.
It quickly turned into a nightmare, however, with Kinnear’s inability to clinch transfer deals matched by his flimsy grasp of the facts.
And while Newcastle will not make an immediate appointment to replace Kinnear, The Journal understands there are plans to bring in another senior member of management in time.
Despite Ashley having reconnected with former managing director Derek Llambias in recent months – indeed the pair spoke recently on other business – a return appears unlikely. The former casino boss resigned in the summer after Kinnear’s appointment and sources close to him suggested he would welcome the chance to discuss a return but Ashley may look to another name to complement trusted club secretary Lee Charnley and finance director John Irving.
Whoever comes in, The Journal understands their first job may be to rebuff Manchester United interest in midfielder Cheick Tiote – a target for the Red Devils in the summer.
It is understood that a third party purporting to represent the club has made Tiote’s camp aware of interest in the Ivorian and that a move has been suggested in the summer as Manchester United look to make wholesale changes to their squad.
Indeed a move was originally mooted in January, with a price tag of around £12million mentioned. The suggestions from Old Trafford are that a move could be revived in the summer when Newcastle are planning a massive clear-out.
Quite where Kinnear’s resignation leaves the club after Saturday’s bruising 3-0 derby defeat is unclear although Alan Pardew does not plan to discuss the departure in great deal when he addresses the media later this week. Despite the flak that has come his way since Saturday’s abject performance against Sunderland he has been making plans for the summer, which will see an unprecedented changing of the black and white guard with several stars out of contract and available.
Pardew, however, will know that Kinnear’s removal means that he is now alone as a front-line Ashley employee who will be held accountable.
Although Kinnear did not speak publicly after putting his foot in his mouth during a Talksport interview, he was a lightning rod for criticism during lean times.
Although stung by the derby defeat, Pardew believes the club’s comfortable league position gives him some sort of insurance.