Football

The Long Overdue Retrospective Of Joe Kinnear's Time At Newcastle United

The Long Overdue Retrospective Of Joe Kinnear's Time At Newcastle United

For all of the trouble Newcastle United find themselves in at the moment, there was a time when things were even weirder. While the appointment of Steve Bruce raised countless eyebrows over the summer, it pales in comparison to when Joe Kinnear rocked up at St James' Park in October of 2008.

After all, this was a man who called locals journalists 'cunts' in his first press conference. He may have only been in charge for four months, but it was an appointment that foretold the fortunes of the club for the following decade, during which time he would even have a stint as Director of Football.

How did a man who hadn't managed a Premier League club since 1999 get the job in the first place?

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This was a period of serious turmoil at Newcastle. Mike Ashley had bought the club in the summer of the previous year, a move that was initially approved by the supporters. He cleared the club's sizeable debts, although it soon became apparent that their financial situation was worse than he had anticipated.

He was one of the lads, downing pints in the away end whilst wearing a replica shirt.

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His popularity soared with the re-appointment of Kevin Keegan in January 2008, a union which would sour over the following months. Much of that was down to the presence of Dennis Wise, then the club's Director of Football.

He was at loggerheads with Keegan over transfer policy, with the manager having little say in their dealings. When he asked Wise about incoming players that he had never heard of, he was told to look them up on YouTube.

The sale of James Milner to Aston Villa without his permission was the final straw. He resigned two days after the close of the window.

At this stage, Ashley actually put the club up for sale, something he would repeat numerous times over the last decade. While that process was ongoing, the man he chose to lead the club was Joe Kinnear.

Chris Hughton was caretaker boss before the appointment, and The Athletic recently recalled the reaction to Kinnear's arrival in the North East. Hughton called the players and staff into a meeting to announce who would be taking over team:

“Right lads, there’s a new manager coming in. It’s Joe Kinnear."

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The news went down like a lead balloon, with most of the foreign players having never heard of their new manager. One coach responded:

It is a fucking joke in here.

They had no idea what was yet to come.

Kinnear had a decent Premier League pedigree, having managed Wimbledon from 1992-1999. However, he had not been at this level since then and was known to be somewhat of a loose cannon. That was a reputation he would cement in the coming months.

He was initially appointed on a temporary basis, but his stay would soon be extended until the end of the season. Joey Barton described the club as 'chaos', and this was a man who was fresh out of a stint in prison.

Their manager would start as he meant to go on. In his first press conference, he would embark on the type of rant we have not seen since in the Premier League.

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Kinnear was unhappy about the coverage of his appointment at the club, assembling journalists to blast them with abuse.

Here's some of the highlights:

Kinnear: Which one is Simon Bird [Daily Mirror's north-east football writer]?

Bird: Me.

Kinnear: You're a cunt.

"Which one is Hickman [Niall, football writer for the Express]? You are out of order. Absolutely fucking out of order. If you do it again, I am telling you you can fuck off and go to another ground.

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"I will not come and stand for that fucking crap. No fucking way, lies. Fuck, you're saying I turned up and they [Newcastle's players] fucked off...

"You are trying to fucking undermine my position already."

If it wasn't already clear, he didn't exactly think very highly of journalists:

It is none of your fucking business. What the fuck are you going to do? You ain't got the balls to be a fucking manager.

Fucking day off. Do I want your opinion. Do I have to listen to you?

After minutes of abuse, the club press officer asked the journalists not to print what had just been said. "Fucking print it," was Kinnear's take. So they did.

He would cut all ties with national newspapers at this point, only speaking to a select group of local media outlets for the remainder of his time at the club.

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This was only the start.

Each of his first two games in charge (against Everton and Manchester City) finished in 2-2 draws. Surprise wins over West Brom and Aston Villa followed, and Newcastle were out of the relegation zone. That's about as good as things got.

After a 0-0 draw with Chelsea on October 31st, and with Mike Ashley unable to sell the club, Kinnear was given the job until the end of the season.

He was sent off for berating referee Mike Reilly in the draw with Stoke in early December, and repeatedly called out his squad for a lack of quality.

One of the lone bright spots was the form of Charles N'Zogbia. The winger was in perhaps the best form of his career at this point, but he would soon fall out with his manager.

The tipping point came when Kinnear referred to N'Zogbia as 'Insomnia' in a post-match interview. He felt disrespected and refused to play for the club under the manager, eventually moving to Wigan Athletic in the January window.

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After his departure, Kinnear was quick to call the player out:

It’s laughable. He lived in a fantasy world, let’s put it that way and I told him so.

There was not a day when he didn’t add some Mickey-Mouse story about a club that wanted him.

First of all, he came in and told me Arsenal wanted to buy him, then the next week it was Villa, then the next week it was Man U, then the next week it was Real Madrid, then the next week it was Lyons.

And each time he came in, he made it clear he did not want to be at the club so in the end, there was only one thing I could do – send him to Wigan!

Shay Given, widely regarded as one of the best goalkeepers in the division at the time, was also allowed to leave in a £7million move to Manchester City.

This would be all but his final act as manager of the club. He would take ill just before Newcastle's clash with West Brom, being rushed to hospital where he would undergo heart bypass surgery.

He won five of his 26 games in charge, winning more fights than football matches.

Alan Shearer would take his place until the end of the season, which ended with the club's first relegation since 1989.

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Usually when a player or manager returns to a club, it is because they have made lasting positive impact during a previous spell. Joe Kinnear hardly managed that during his brief time as Newcastle manager, but that didn't stop him being appointed as Director of Football in June of 2013.

Mike Ashley is a bad owner, isn't he?

Just as he had done in his first spell, Kinnear began his time at the club with a remarkable interview. This time it was on talkSPORT, where he would tell a number of outright lies, before going on to hilariously mispronounce the names of a number of players in the Newcastle squad.

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After opening the interview by saying he was more intelligent than his critics, here's some of the inaccurate claims he made about his career:

  • He said signed Dean Holdsworth at Wimbledon for £50,000. It was actually £650,000, a fair chunk of change in 1992.
  • He claimed he sold Robbie Earle while at the club, who actually retired a year after he left.
  • That he signed Tim Krul during his first spell at Newcastle, when the player had already been there for three years before he arrived.
  • That he won LMA Manager of the Year three times. He won it once.
  • He signed John Hartson on a free, when he actually cost £7.5million.

Now let's get onto the mispronunciations, because they are glorious. After claiming to know the then Newcastle squad incredibly well, here's what he would call some of their players. He called:

  • Yohan Cabaye - 'Yohan Kebab'
  • Hatem Ben Arfa - 'Ben Afra'
  • Shola Ameobi - 'Amamobi'

Not a great start then.

He pleaded for fans to judge him on the transfers he made, claiming that he "could open the door to any manager in the world". After promising top class signings upon his arrival, Kinnear would go on to make exactly zero in his time at the club.

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The summer transfer window saw no permanent signings come through the door, with Loic Remy coming in on loan the only arrival. This was a trick he would repeat in the January window, where only the temporary switch of Luuk de Jong was secured.

He also sold their best player, the previously reference 'Kebab' to PSG for £20million.

To be fair to Kinnear, he would stick around for twice as long at the club this time. His reign as Director of Football lasted eight months, resigning after falling out with manager Alan Pardew.

His second stint at Newcaslte could be summed up as: zero signings made, three names mispronounced, and one takeaway sold to a French club for £20million.

He hasn't been seen in the game since. It's probably for the best.

SEE ALSO: Manager Appeals Could Be The Next Step Of VAR Farce

Gary Connaughton

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