What a terrible week it’s been for Newcastle supporters.
On Sunday owner Mike Ashley makes the highly controversial decision of hiring Joe Kinnear as Director of Football. Kinnear, who managed the club for a brief stint in 2009 but was forced to abandon his post after being rushed to hospital with heart problems, is the figure who specialized in ‘long ball’ and many believe led to the club’s relegation.
In the midst of public outcry, Kinnear decided to give an interview to Talksport on Monday in which he embarrased himself by making ridiculous and untrue claims while botching the names of numerous figures in the club.
Among his soundbites, the 66 year old claimed responsibility for signing Tim Krul (he was recruited by Graeme Souness) and James Perch (he was bought by Chris Hughton), called Newcastle’s managing director, Derek Llambias, “Derek Llambezee,” claimed Llambias had resigned as “director of football” (that was not his position and at that point in time, had not resigned) and also referred to Shola Ameobi as “Shola Amenobee”, Yohan Cabaye as “Yohan Kebab” and Hatem Ben Arfa “Hatem Ben Afre”.
By Wednesday, Llambias handed in his resignation, which was widely understood to be a direct consequence of Ashley’s decision to appoint Kinnear. Llambias, who is credited for bringing the likes of Fabricio Coloccini and Jonás Guttiérez to the club, kept it classy in his exit, graciously thanking the club staff and supporters while not mentioning Kinnear.
Many feared that Alan Pardew, who signed an eight year contract with the club last fall, would be the next in line to show himself to the gallows but Pards refused, saying “I am staying to take the club up the league.”
The situation was enough for Newcastle legend Alan Shearer, who ripped the club for hiring Kinnear:
Right now people are laughing at the club I support and that sickens me. I promised myself years ago to never be surprised by anything which happens in football, particularly when it came to Newcastle. But this situation really is stretching it a bit.
Newcastle have a manager who has just been totally undermined. I’m sure it will be a difficult situation. It’s no way to treat a man who 12 months ago was manager of the year after guiding Newcastle to fifth place. He is in such an intolerable position.
What are the players to think when Joe Kinnear can’t even get their names right. It’s all a PR disaster. Mike Ashley just keeps on making too many decisions which alienate the Newcastle fans. They deserve better, much better.
Just after Shearer made the comments, the club sent a wrecking crew to tear down the iconic “Shearer’s” sign at the entrance to the St James’ Park bar named after the striker. The move incensed supporters and a club official was quick to note that the sign change was “purely coincidence,” and that the decision to revamp the bar and change the name to “Nine” (Shearer’s number) had been made long ago.
It’s sad to see a club be tortured by such a difficult week of news especially since the effects could be devastating. Current players – especially those who Kinnear botched in his radio interview – will feel alienated and may be more inclined to seek a transfer (Cabaye and Ben Arfa have been the subject of rumors) while potential transfers into the club – Joleon Lescott, Eder, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Loic Remy – could look elsewhere for their future home.