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Newcastle: Joe Kinnear Might Be Exactly What the Toon Need

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Newcastle: Joe Kinnear Might Be Exactly What the Toon Need
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Since the announcement that Joe Kinnear would be returning to Newcastle United as Director of Football, a large proportion of the Toon Army have been cursing his name.

It's an appropriate response to the return of a man who swore 52 times in his first press conference as Newcastle manager in 2008 (NSFW link here) and indicative of the concern over the appointment.

Former Wimbledon manager Kinnear was put in charge at St. James Park for 18 games in the 2008-09 season. He was able to win only four of those matches, before being forced to stand down with heart complications—a similar health issue to the one that caused to him step away from the Dons in 1999.

Just as the Crazy Gang were relegated following his departure, Newcastle were unable to beat the drop when local hero Alan Shearer was appointed manager at the end of 2008-09, despite boasting zero experience and an embarrassing lack of nous as a pundit.

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Kinnear's re-emergence on Tyneside reminds the Toon Army of this unpleasant period, which overlapped with the appointment of another former Wimbledon favorite Dennis Wise, who endured an ill-fated spate with the club as "Executive Director (Football)."

Much like Wise's vague job title, the Director of Football role in English football is fairly unclear, but Kinnear insists his sole purpose is to take charge of player transfers. He does not expect to impinge on Alan Pardew's tactical or managerial duties.

"I know I've got more knowledge than anyone at Newcastle as a football manager," he was quoted as saying by Dominic Fifield of The Guardian, perhaps suggesting that he is already undermining the first team coach whose toes he has vowed not to step on.

The apparent re-manifestation of Mike Ashley's "cockney mafia" has been met with widespread disapproval. Labour Member of Parliament and Toon fan Ian Lavery tweeted his disbelief in mock cockney rhyming slang, before adding a damning "laughing stock."


Some fans have jokingly suggested trading in their season tickets for a seat in the press conference room, based on Kinnear's famously fiery tirade.

The man known affectionately as "BFJ" ("Big Fat Joe") by Wimbledon fans is clearly facing universal condemnation in his new role.

This writer completely understands the concerns of Newcastle fans, but at the risk of offering a thoroughly unpopular opinion, Joe Kinnear might just be exactly what Newcastle United need right now.

Full disclosure: I am a Wimbledon fan. I watched every single one of Kinnear's games in charge of the Dons in the '90s, and I believe he is a very good manager.

He certainly knows how to rub people the wrong way—I vividly remember a time when he turned away from the dugout to offer an offensive hand gesture and curse-riddled rant to my brother in exchange for his shouted tactical suggestions from the stands—but he is able to back up his claim that he knows how to spot a good player.

Phil Cole/Getty Images
Kinnear welcoming new signing Efan Ekoku to Wimbledon's training ground, which was a public park

For six Premier League seasons, Kinnear helped lowly cash-strapped Wimbledon punch far above their weight. He signed incredibly successful strikers like Marcus Gayle and Efan Ekoku for a song. He brought midfielder Oyvind Leonhardsen over from Norway for less than £1 million and eventually sold him at great profit to Liverpool, continuing Wimbledon's survival technique of adding value to their assets.

In 1993-94, when he guided the Dons to an unthinkable sixth-place Premiership finish, he was made LMA Manager of the Year. He has won four Premier League Manager of the Month awards, which is more than Jose Mourinho, Roberto Mancini, Andres Villas-Boas, Gerard Houllier and, of course, Alan Pardew.

While at Newcastle in 2008-09, he brought in three players: Peter Lovenkrands, Kevin Nolan and Ryan Taylor. The latter remains a very popular signing, whom he swapped for the unsettled Charles N'Zogbia (or "Charles Insomnia," as he famously labelled him) and £6 million. Both Nolan and Lovenkrands also enjoyed great success in the Championship-winning side of 2009-10.

Last season, Newcastle spent nearly £19 million in the winter transfer window bringing in six French-speaking players, who could only help the club move from 15th place at the end of January to 16th by the conclusion of the season.

According to The Guardian, their wage bill rose 20 percent in June 2012 to £64.1 million.

This is a club that needs to curb spending by being careful with player selection and sorting the wheat from the chaff in the current squad. One way of doing this is to bring in a man with a wide football expertise to mediate between the manager and the executive level. This man is Joe Kinnear.

Phil Cole/Getty Images

Of course, Kinnear might upset the current manager with his presence, and this continental style of club hierarchy might not work for Newcastle. And this article may be basing Kinnear's nous predominantly on success from over a decade ago.

But if "BFJ" has shown us anything over the years, it's that he knows how to get results when the chips are stacked against him. The current backlash, therefore, might be exactly what he needs to prove himself during his second stint on Tyneside.

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