Belfast Telegraph

Joe Kinnear sparks Newcastle walkout with star talent-spotter on brink

By Martin Hardy

Graham Carr's future at Newcastle United is in doubt after another day of drama at the trouble-torn club.

Carr, the influential chief scout who was given an unprecedented eight-year contract this time last year, is considering following managing director Derek Llambias out of the exit at St James' Park.

Llambias announced his resignation at nine o'clock yesterday morning following the appointment of former manager Joe Kinnear as the club's new director of football. "I have had an incredible journey during my five years at the club, including some challenging times," he said. "I will reflect with great fondness on my time in the North-east. I want to thank the staff for their hard work and our fans for their support of the club."

The Newcastle manager, Alan Pardew, has, as reported in The Independent, vowed to fight to hold on to his position. Pardew gave his first public statement since Kinnear's appointment when he said: "I am staying, to take the club up the league." His resolve has hardened since Kinnear's appointment.

Pardew's position has been undermined, with the director of football set to be given an office at the club's Benton training ground. The manager was aware that the club were considering creating such a position last summer. At that point it was felt that Carr's influence was such that the chief scout effectively held the role without the title. Kinnear's arrival has, however, been with a remit to troubleshoot as a more powerful figure than either Pardew or Carr and to report directly to owner, Mike Ashley.

On Monday, Kinnear raised questions over Newcastle's long-standing interest in Douglas, the Brazilian defender who is available on a free transfer, after his contract ran down at the Dutch side FC Twente. Carr was unhappy at the intervention and is believed to be considering his future.

The 68-year-old Geordie had been hailed as an expert talent spotter as he raided Europe, and mainly France, to unearth the kind of cut-price, rising stars Ashley saw as the way forward for Newcastle. Carr helped the club land Cheick Tioté, Hatem Ben Arfa and Yohan Cabaye for the combined total of just £14m and, when they finished the 2011-12 Premier League season in fifth place, was seen as key to that success. Carr also played a key role in the arrival of Moussa Sissoko and Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa earlier this year.

However, Ashley was so furious with what he saw as a failure across the board last season as Newcastle were dragged into a relegation struggle that he has given Kinnear complete control at the club.

Ashley has backed more than £40m in transfer spending in the last year. It is unlikely he will sanction more new money being spent and Kinnear has admitted already he has the authority to sell any players he believes are "not Newcastle".

Pardew is expected to be in charge for the start of pre-season training. The odds on Kinnear succeeding him had dropped to 3-1, with Gus Poyet second favourite.

Belfast Telegraph Digital


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