Busy summer expected

9 February ~ Now that Joe Kinnear is no longer director of football at Newcastle United, we’re beginning to hear all the behind the scenes stories those in the know wouldn’t tell while he was in post. He frequently lost his phone, and the story goes there were often missed calls from agents by the time he found it. He only seemed to miss calls when players wanted to come in, however – there were no communication problems when there were outgoings to arrange. “Judge me on my signings” was his plea on arrival, but with only two first-team loan signings in his two transfer windows any judgement was bound to be negative.

Though the 29-word announcement on the club website claimed Kinnear resigned that isn’t necessarily so, bearing in mind that Mike Ashley’s Newcastle were condemned by the panel at Kevin Keegan’s constructive dismissal hearing for lying about Keegan’s role in public. A dismissal seems more likely than resignation given Kinnear’s wild flights of fancy about his own world-class abilities made public in a bizarre radio interview days after rejoining the club, and rumours of thousands of season-ticket renewal cancellations. An increasingly popular theory is that he was only appointed as a lightning conductor to divert criticism away from other senior figures. If there’s a more damning summary of his achievements I can’t think of it.

As pointed out in WSC 318 on his arrival, Kinnear has never displayed any sign of the capabilities required to be director of football. His unsuitability doesn’t mean the role itself can never work, just that a better candidate is needed. The club say they have no plans to appoint a replacement in the short term, but perhaps they should have. With a number of first-teamers out of contract in the summer and others also likely to leave, it is inevitable that the close-season will be busier than it has been for many years.

Assuming Newcastle feel the need to replace the gaps in the first-team squad, by no means a certainty on recent history, dedicating someone to this very difficult remit rather than asking existing employees to share the responsibility would improve the chances of success. Whoever is tasked to do it would also be better off talking to the manager and chief scout as early as possible to hammer out a plan on how to proceed.

Fans may be dismayed by recent form culminating in capitulation to local rivals Sunderland last week, and by a reversion to a style of play that nearly got them relegated last year. Any celebration at the news will be tempered by the realisation that yet another season written off half way through won’t be resurrected by his removal. Mark Brophy

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