Belfast Telegraph

Is this Toon big enough for Alan Pardew and Joe Kinnear

By MArtin Hardy

Mike Ashley handed Joe Kinnear the reigns to run Newcastle United so that the billionaire Sports Direct owner can gain a tighter control over his football club.

 

Kinnear was handed a three-year contract as his position as the club's director of football was finally confirmed.

The move, which the 66-year-old revealed himself on Sunday, has cast huge doubt over the position of the current first-team manager Alan Pardew, who is now fighting for his future.

Kinnear met Pardew yesterday for the first time since the shock move was first announced to talk through the amount of power that he will hold at the club as the director of football, the first time Ashley has appointed a director of football since Dennis Wise in 2008.

A club statement confirmed that when Kinnear had been talking about the significance of his role, on that front at least, he had remained fairly accurate.

"Joe will report directly to the club's board as the senior executive in charge of all football-related matters," it read. "Chief scout Graham Carr and manager Alan Pardew will report into Joe."

Kinnear will, however, have done little to endear himself to the current playing staff having mispronounced many of their names during a radio interview, most spectacularly referring to much-coveted France international Yohan Cabaye as "Yohan Kebab."

He also claimed to have signed goalkeeper Tim Krul when it was actually Graeme Souness.

He had an uneasy relationship with the media during his first spell on Tyneside and at one point embarked upon an expletive-laden rant which did neither he nor the club any favours.

That is seen as the most forcible sign yet of the annoyance Ashley felt with last season and the way Newcastle flirted with relegation.

Sacking Pardew would cost the Newcastle owner a considerable figure and it would come less than 12 months after he handed him an eight-year contract.

Instead Kinnear has been sent into act as Ashley's eyes and ears inside the club's Benton training ground and at St James' Park. He will have offices at both facilities in a move that is now seen as a clear and calculated flexing of the owner's muscles.

Ashley wants to shake the club up after finishing fifth bottom of the Premier League, a year after finishing fifth from top, and after an investment in January that was claimed to be around £30m.

The pair have maintained a friendship since Kinnear was manager at St James' Park and Ashley's trust in him is such that he believes there will be a quick identification of problems. He likes the blunt style of Kinnear, who will report back to the owner on areas he believes are weak and that can be improved.

Carr's role will not be overly affected. He will now report direct to Kinnear. For Pardew however, there has been a clear dilution of his position. He has been left isolated in his coaching role, with so much authority passed to Kinnear.

There remains a possibility that Kinnear could succeed Pardew. Bookmakers dropped the odds of that happening to 7-2, although given the gradual lessening of significance for the first team manager at the club, Kinnear may now see that as a backward step.

He has already said he has the authority to determine the style of play, who the club signs and who the club sells. Pardew knows he must tread a careful path with Ashley so bullish, but he is aware of any encroachment onto first-team matters.

Significantly there was no comment from the manager on the statement released to confirm Kinnear's arrival. The acknowledgment came from Derek Llambias, who Kinnear has claimed resigned 10 days ago (this has been denied by the club).

Llambias said: "The board are pleased to welcome Joe back to the club. Joe has many years of experience working within the game, and this experience will be of great benefit to the club in achieving our objectives over the coming seasons."

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