Joe Kinnear's Appointment and the 8 Weirdest Premier League Appointments
It isn’t just because Kinnear of all people, besides a successful period with Wimbledon, hasn’t done much of note (apart from foul-mouthed rants at the press) since retiring from the game in 1976. But it’s how the club have gone about the appointment.
Per Eurosport, Kinnear started claiming he was the new director of football at St. James’ Park on Sunday–an entire two days before the club actually confirmed it.
The club's statement says, via Newcastle United's official website:
“Joe will report directly to the club's Board as the senior executive in charge of all football-related matters. Chief scout Graham Carr and manager Alan Pardew will report into Joe.”
So, effectively, Alan Pardew is now assistant manager to Kinnear.
And this isn't even mentioning Kinnear’s bizarre radio rant to TalkSport (again, before the club had confirmed his appointment) where he got the likes of Hatem Ben Arfa, Yohan Cabaye and Shola Ameobi’s name wrong and then went on to claim he was smarter than the Toon Army fans.
So, in honor of this incredibly strange hiring, what have been the weirdest appointments in English Premier League history?
8. Paolo Di Canio at Sunderland
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No one can say they didn't double take at the end of last season, when struggling Sunderland sacked their highly rated manager, Martin O’Neill, and, in a bid to get a level head and secure survival, hired Paolo Di Canio.
It was the footballing equivalent of stopping your sober friend from driving your car and giving the keys to a drunk chicken instead.
Paolo Di Canio's only managerial experience was with Swindon Town, where he won League Two but quit the club and then broke into their stadium and stole pictures from his old office.
The appointment even caused a Sunderland board member, Labour MP David Miliband, to quit his post at the club due to Di Canio’s past statements on fascism.
But it only rates at No. 8 because, however odd it seemed at the time, Di Canio did manage to keep Sunderland up and even scored a Tyne-Wear derby victory over Newcastle United of Joe Kinnear fame.
7. Avram Grant at Chelsea
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When in September 2007 Chelsea FC fired their then- and now current manager, the charismatic and handsome Jose Mourinho, and replaced him with the not charismatic or handsome Avram Grant, eyebrows were raised.
Grant had not managed a team outside of Israel but had previously been technical director of Portsmouth and was hired as Chelsea’s director of football two months before Mourinho was sacked. (Director of football hired; manager is sacked shortly after. Take note, Mr. Pardew.)
The reason Grant was given the keys to what was then one of the biggest war chests in world football?
He was mates with Roman Abramovich. That’s about it.
Again, this is only at No. 7 because Grant did manage to get Chelsea to runners-up in the league, League Cup and even got them to the Champions League final (something Mourinho never achieved with Chelsea). And if it wasn’t for John Terry falling on his backside, he would have lifted that Champions League trophy.
6. George Graham at Tottenham Hotspur
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When Spurs are looking for a manager, a popular choice is never going to be the man who won two First Divisions, a Cup Winners’ Cup, an FA Cup and the Charity Shield with Arsenal, is it?
Especially when that man, George Graham, is in the business of allegedly accepting “unsolicited gifts” from agents, per The Guardian, and had a reputation for playing football so boring it made Sam Allardyce’s West Ham look like the Rio De Janeiro Carnival.
Graham, who was hired in 1998, was eventually sacked by Spurs in 2001 for what the club alleged was repeatedly giving private information about the club to the press.
Graham doesn’t make the top five, as he did win the 1999 League Cup with Tottenham. But the fans never warmed to him, and he did vomit £11 million on the biggest Premier League flop from the Ukraine the other side of Shevchenko, Sergey Rebrov.
5. Nigel Adkins at Reading
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In March 2013, Reading were staring relegation in the face. They were joint bottom of the table. A change had to be made if they were to stand any hope of survival.
They fired manager Brian McDermott, who had won Reading the Championship the year before, and hired Nigel Adkins, who had recently been fired from Southampton, finishing runners-up to Reading the season before.
Adkins made sure Reading went from staring relegation in the face to embracing it and giving it a big wet sloppy kiss.
Destined for another season in the Championship, Reading now have to try and get promoted again with a manager who didn’t get them promoted last time.
4. Les Reed at Charlton Athletic
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In the 2006-07 season, Iain Dowie had the tough task of replacing Alan Curbishley, Charlton’s manager of 15 years.
After a poor run of results, Dowie was sacked in November 2006 and replaced by his assistant, Les Reed.
They would have been better off hiring Lou Reed.
Reed (Les, not Lou) had never managed a team before, but had previously spent time in roles at the FA and as a consultant for the Northern Ireland national team.
Reed lasted six weeks at Charlton, winning only once and getting dunked out of the League Cup by League Two side Wycombe Wanderers, before he was sacked and replaced by Alan Pardew (without a Joe Kinnear in sight).
To this day, those 41 days at Charlton Athletic remain Les Reed’s only time as a manager.
3. Alex McLeish at Aston Villa
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When you look at George Graham's time at Spurs and how odd it was for a club to hire one of their local rival’s most successful managers, this pales in comparison to Alex McLeish at Villa.
Aston Villa hired the manager who had just got their local rivals Birmingham City relegated in June 2011.
From the announcement of his appointment, Villa fans protested outside the ground. And manager-fan relations only deteriorated from there.
McLeish went on to lead Villa to a 16th-place finish in the 2011-12 season, avoiding relegation by just two points and becoming statistically the worst-ever Aston Villa manager with a win rate of just 21.4 percent.
He was sacked the day after the season ended. Paul Lambert was hired as the new Villa manager, and Chris Hughton replaced Lambert at Norwich, which meant he left his job at Birmingham City. Thus, McLeish again was responsible for the Blues losing another manager.
2. Christian Gross at Tottenham Hotspur
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When Spurs hired Grasshopper Club Zurich manager Christian Gross in 1997, the unanimous response was: “Who?!”
Gross was very successful in his native Switzerland, but that didn’t cut much mustard (or dip many fondues) with the English press.
And his reputation of being quite an odd, eccentric foreign manager who didn’t really know what he was doing wasn’t helped by him turning up late to his first press conference, brandishing a London Underground ticket and declaring, via WSC: “I want this to become my ticket to the dreams.”
If his dream was to be unemployed in nine months time, mission accomplished.
But all’s well that ends well. Christian Gross went to reinvigorate Basel, and Tottenham hired George Graham.
1. Steve Kean at Blackburn Rovers
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Steve Kean’s playing career was pretty nondescript. He didn’t make any appearances for Celtic, a handful of appearances while on loan at Swansea and made 12 appearances for Portuguese side Academica Coimbra.
His coaching career was just as dreary.
In August 2009, Kean was hired as a first-team coach at Blackburn Rovers by then-manager Sam Allardyce.
Then the Venky’s happened. And they happened all over Blackburn Rovers.
The Indian chicken processing company, Venky’s, purchased Blackburn Rovers in November 2010. The next month, they sacked Sam Allardyce and, for some reason, replaced him with Kean.
The fans started protesting almost immediately after Kean was hired, and they didn’t even stop when he was sacked at the start of last season.
Kean just managed to scrape survival in 2010-11, but oversaw Rovers' relegation to the Championship in 2011-12.
What was doubly odd about Kean’s appointment, someone with so little experience to replace a proven (albeit boring) manager of Sam Allardyce’s standing, was the refusal of the Venky's to actually dismiss him.
Fans protested for the majority of the 2011-12 season, calling for Kean to be sacked, and it got quite ugly. But the Venky’s refused to pull the trigger on Kean, even after they went down.
One of the oddest stories from Kean’s reign is the reports from the Metro that claim he was sacked in September 2012, but refused to accept the decision and turned up to take training the next day.
Later that month on 28 September 2012, long after being relegated from the Premiership, the inevitable happened. Steve Kean finally left Ewood Park, claiming the powers that be “forced” him to resign, per BBC Sport.
Rovers were finally winning games at the time of his departure and sat in third place in the Championship, looking favorites for promotion.
They finished 17th and made three other weird managerial appointments, worthy of this list, before the season finished.