Joe Kinnear’s eight-month reign as director of football at Newcastle United remains one of the most baffling episodes in the club’s 122-year history.
Charged with bringing fresh talent to St. James’ Park over the course of two transfer windows, the 67-year-old failed to make a single permanent signing during his short stay.
The figures behind Yohan Cabaye’s recent move to French champions Paris Saint-Germain are thought to have prompted his departure from Tyneside, as reported by Daily Mirror’s Simon Bird.
But a worrying drop in season ticket sales in response to Kinnear’s failings was also a factor according to Colin Young in the Daily Mail, and his three-year, £60,000-per-month contract was terminated.
The role was doomed to fail from the very start following his arrival last June, and one embarrassing, error-strewn radio interview set the tone for his disastrous stay.
Speaking to talkSPORT, the former Wimbledon and Luton Town manager infamously mispronounced a number of his new players’ names as well as trotting out a host of untruths and criticising the club’s fans.
And once he’d signed on the dotted line, the uncomfortable episodes just kept on coming.
In a detailed account by Martin Hardy in The Independent, Kinnear is alleged to have boasted about deals that never existed, including a £25 million move for Mohamed Salah.
He also claimed to have £20 million to spend on a new striker—a falsehood that enraged Magpies’ owner Mike Ashley—and even declared an interest in Gareth Bale before his world record move to Real Madrid.
Such delusional utterances did little to improve his unpopularity on the terraces, and Toon supporters openly mocked the former Tottenham Hotspur defender with chants and banners.
Geordies have particularly good memories—especially when it comes to football—and few had forgiven him for his part in the club’s relegation four years earlier.
Under the ex-Republic of Ireland international on a temporary basis, United were left with a mountain to climb, and though his spell as interim boss came to an abrupt halt due to health issues, the damage had been done.
Newcastle were relegated from the Premier League on the final day of the 2009-10 season, and his name will be forever associated with that shambolic campaign.
His return last summer was subsequently met with howls of derision, and while Kinnear bragged he had a hotline to every manager in the Premier League, many suggested he’d struggle to simply remember his own number.
The two players who did arrive on his watch were both loan signings and both strikers who had previously negotiated transfers to the club before moving elsewhere.
Manager Alan Pardew’s interest in Dutch striker Luuk De Jong goes back as far as 2012, while Loic Remy almost completed a move to St. James’ a little over a year ago before opting for Queens Park Rangers.
So there you have it. Two players in, both on temporary terms, and a number of exits, including Jonas Gutierrez and Danny Simpson as well as Cabaye, make up his legacy.
Newcastle United will improve without Joe Kinnear because, quite simply, they couldn’t do any worse.