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Joe Kinnear Should Be Seen But Not Heard

Thursday 20th June 2013
This week, Bruce Halling gives his verdict on Joe Kinnear's appointment as Newcastle United's Director of Football.

The return of Joe Kinnear to Newcastle United has been something of a controversial topic in recent days, with opinion very much divided as to whether or not this is a good move from club owner Mike Ashley. More than that, there is a great deal of debate as to whether the 66-year-old Irishman is even needed at the club, with a number of questions about what exactly his role as Director of Football will entail.

Of course, this isn't the first time he's held a position at Newcastle – who could forget his short tenure in charge of the club during the 2008-09 season? To be fair, the tenure itself was fairly forgettable, unlike the explosive rant after he was questioned about his decision not to have the players in training in his first day at the club. To say that he didn't exactly endear himself with the media and the fans on that day would certainly be an understatement.

Joe Kinnear's Rant
A number of years has passed since the debacle, however, and one would have assumed that Kinnear would have learned the lessons from that extraordinary day and from his other press appearances, which included him infamously referring to Charles N'Zogbia as ‘Insomnia', leading to the Frenchman's departure in that season's January transfer window. Kinnear has always been a bit outspoken, but surely common sense and logic would have dictated a calmer approach to his first interview since his return to Newcastle was confirmed?

Naturally, you'd be wrong.

If Newcastle fans weren't sceptical enough about his appointment, they'll be more desperate to see the back of him than Blackburn fans were Steve Kean after the interview he gave to TalkSport, in which he mispronounced the name of virtually everybody at the club he mentioned by name, and gave a number of different versions of events as to how he's ended up in the job in the first place. According to Kinnear, he's been in discussions with Mike Ashley for the last three weeks, yet Derek ‘Lambezi' had only resigned ten days previous to the day of the TalkSport interview.

He was also none too shy about talking up his own abilities, claiming he knows what to look for in a player because he's worked with some of the best players in the world. Mentions of his time at Tottenham as a player and Wimbledon as a manager were what he chose to back up his claims, before going on to claim that the negative perception of him was all because journalists had it in for him since day one – although, when you think back to his expletive-ridden rant at the start of his reign as manager, can you blame them?

And that's without mentioning his criticism of Newcastle fans, whom he claims lack his level of intelligence and who will believe anything they read in the papers. He's not exactly shy of giving the media things to write about in said newspapers, and it's not like the journalists even have to try and spin it to make Kinnear look like an absolute moron. He's more than capable of doing that all on his own.

But, if you strip away all the rubbish, all the mentions of ‘Ben Afri' and ‘Kebab', there is actually a lot of sense to what he's talking about as far as what his role at the club will involve. He's made it sound as though he's come in as an extra pair of eyes and hands on the scouting and recruitment side of things, and that can never be a bad thing, can it? Kinnear's been in the game for a long time and will no doubt have a long list of contacts that he can add to the ones that Alan Pardew and Graham Carr have and if the three of them can work on the same page and pull together in the right direction, it could be a very positive thing for Newcastle.

It was almost inevitable that they were going to struggle to meet the expectations that they set for themselves when they finished in 5th place in the 2011-2012 season, but everyone at the club will be rightly disappointed with how things went for them last season. They were certainly a lot more unfortunate with injuries and other circumstances with players in their squad – the uncertainty over Coloccini's future in January would certainly have not been a good thing – but as Kinnear rightly stated in the interview, the club do need to figure out how they managed to drop so far backwards last season and put together a plan to mend the situation.

The problem is that nobody will remember the few nuggets of useful information that came from the interview, because Kinnear said a lot of things that were infinitely more interesting to the press and infinitely more damaging to the relationship between the club's hierarchy and its fan base. Whatever interview you look at, I think you'll find the same situation. Kinnear has been in the business for a long time and he wouldn't have been able to stick around if he didn't know what he was doing and I genuinely believe his insights and knowledge will be beneficial to the club.

But when he speaks to the media, it creates a problem. So I suggest the following scenario: Let him take up this job and give him the freedom to do what he needs to do behind the scenes. However, for the sake of the club and its loyal fan base, don't let him speak to the media. Every time he does, it opens up a can of worms and the more he's allowed to ramble and rant and rave, the more likely it is that the drawbacks behind his appointment will outweigh the benefits.
Bruce Halling
Bruce is a 24-year-old self-confessed Football League addict and author of the 'Road To The Promised Land' column. He is a passionate Southend United fan who has witnessed the Shrimpers' rise to the Championship as well as their more recent fall back to their current position in League Two. Though he doesn’t get to many games as a spectator, he has worked at Southend, Colchester United and now Queens Park Rangers as a steward, so is never too far away from the action on a matchday. Away from football, he is a Politics graduate and currently jobhunting. Follow Bruce on Twitter @brucehalling

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