Friday 16 January ~
Joe Kinnear is creating quite a storm at St James’ Park and not necessarily for the right reasons. The Newcastle manager was sent to the stands during the FA Cup defeat to Hull for going forehead to forehead with the equally flammable Phil Brown, and will potentially face another FA misconduct charge to add to the two he picked up earlier in the season. Newcastle's supporters might well find it comforting to see their manager passionately fighting for the cause, but his behaviour must surely be as much of a hindrance as a help. How useful can a manager be sitting in the stand week after week? When an angry dog can't be trusted not to attack other dogs in the park it’s kept on a leash and muzzled to prevent the same thing happening again.
Unfortunately for Kinnear, the FA has its own leash and muzzle in the form of a touchline ban and the likelihood is they won't hesitate in using it on a manager who just can’t be trusted to behave himself. If that ban doesn’t work the FA might consider banishing him from the stadium altogether. Mind you the way things are going at St James’ Park you'd probably still be able to hear him pacing up and down in the car park shouting abuse. In the worst case scenario Kinnear could be banned from the touchline for a period of six matches. Considering he’s already missed two, some at Newcastle might question the wisdom of keeping him around, especially given that the club seem set to be involved in the relegation battle until May.
Elsewhere, another of the game’s more “colourful” characters is having his first crack at management. Julian Dicks, who revelled in hard-man image as a full-back with West Ham and Liverpool among others, has taken over at non-League Wivenhoe Town, on whose behalf he has made the sort of mathematically impossible pledge that managers used to come with all the time: “I can guarantee that I will give 110 per cent.” Wivenhoe will require five promotions to get to the Football League but Dicks says that “potential backers” may be coming in.
Non-League football in Essex has been something of a millionaires’ playground in recent times, with several clubs including Canvey Island and Hornchurch spending lavishly then hurtling back down the divisions as soon as the owners saw that League membership remained a very distant prospect. Dicks failed to make a go of becoming a professional golfer a few years ago and this does rather look like a publicity stunt, or at least something he will tire of very quickly. The FA, already beset by misbehaving managers, may be hoping for the latter. Tom Glenn