Newcastle have had a turbulent time under the ownership of Mike Ashley, its been a rollercoaster of emotions which has seen him come back from the brink of exit to become the hero of Newcastle. After the 2011/2012 season, a 5th place finish and a near miss on Champions League qualification brought both over achievement and hope that the Geordies could become a force in the Premier League and progress from there. But its been only a year later and now all of football are beginning to point the finger at the North-East club in both mockery and humiliation.
Newcastle finished 16th place this recent season and questions arose over the future of Alan Pardew despite signing an 8-year-contract at the start of the season. To bolster the options in back room staff, Mike Ashley has appointed former manager Joe Kinnear as director of football to assist Pardew on a deal that will see him at the club for 3 years. Both resounding laughter and bitter disappointment struck the Newcastle faithful upon hearing this news, but why does it have to necessarily mean bad news for the club?
When Kinnear was first appointed as manager, it was a desperate time for the club. They were slowly sliding down the table and after there ‘messiah’, Kevin Keegan, abandoned the sinking ship, Kinnear stepped up to steady the club in the right direction. His stint only lasted a few months due to a heart attack that left him unable to continue his job, and his time left a few bitter tastes in the mouths of the Newcastle faithful.
They weren’t exactly on the brink of relegation but they won’t really coming close to the dizzying heights of mid-table. His managerial tactics and team selection were often described as ‘clueless’. He also had an uncomfortable relationship with the press. He launched a verbal outburst at the Daily Mirror and other journalists in an interview in which he swore 52 times to the media and its associates. Instead of regretting his decision, he told the media they can publish whatever they want on the matter… and so they did.
It was a turbulent half of the season for the Irishman and he left due to illness with 8 games remaining and it was down to Alan Shearer, a man who had barely secured his coaching badges and had no managerial experience, to lead them into safety. He didn’t manage to do it and the club were relegated on the last day of the season. The finger was largely pointed at Kinnear for this and although he was promised to be reinstated as manager, Mike Ashley saw fit to let Chris Hughton continue managing the team in the Championship and Kinnear was out of a job.
Now after the news of his reappointment at the club, there could be some theories behind it. Maybe its down to Kinnear’s experience being put to use to help the club get back on its feet but the more likely story is that Ashley had promised him his managerial position back and he is trying to repay the favour by making him director of football.
The fans have taken a negative view on this appointment and some have described it as a step back for the club. Back to the days of squirming away from the relegation zone instead of heading towards the Europa League places. Kinnear believes himself that he offers a great role to play because he is ‘a great tactician and I know how to identify strengths and weaknesses in players and use them to an advantage.’ Based on past experiences with Newcastle, I think the fans have to disagree as the pain of relegation still strikes hard in their hearts.
The fans are very passionate and get easily caught up in the excitement and thrills of football, they want nothing more than to see their team do well in the Premier League. Alan Pardew personified a gutsy and determined team punching above their weight in the Europa League places in his first full season in charge. But the 2nd time around didn’t end so successfully and the fans have realised that appointing Kinnear to eradicate these problems is laughable.
So how successful will the appointment be? It probably depends on the impact he makes and how involved Kinnear is in the team affairs. After signing an 8-year-contract, Pardew wouldn’t feel it was necessary to have someone, other than his back from staff, helping him and meddling in on his plans for the team. The job is hardly a duality. Pardew should be the man in charge and Kinnear needs to take a step back rather than make official decisions.
Pardew has already shown he is capable of achieving big things for the Geordies and he feels himself he is more than capable. The fans would not be happy knowing that an unsuccessful signing made in the summer was made by Kinnear, especially if they paid over the odds to secure his services.
The main thing Pardew needs to focus on for the beginning of the campaign is a solid back four. Too many times last season Newcastle conceded easy and sloppy goals and they desperately missed Fabrizio Coloccini for large parts of the season. Its also time for Papiss Cisse to be stood up and counted for his lack of goals last season with Darren Bent being linked with the club. If Kinnear interferes with this and the appointment doesn’t work out then there will be hell to pay with the Newcastle fans. They have called for the head of Ashley before and if things are getting even worse than they are now then they will not hesitate to protest again.