People seem to think that Joe Kinnear has ‘turned Newcastle around’. With due respect to the man’s achievements at Wimbledon, I think there’s quite some way to go before you can classify Kinnear’s reign at Newcastle as a success.
To take control of a rudderless team and then get them to play like a team again is the absolute minimum that an incoming manager should be doing. What Kinnear has done so far at St James Park is what you could have expected of a Souness, a Pearce or Pardew – no disrespect intended to Newcastle fans or Kinnear, or indeed the managers just mentioned. Hell, if Newcastle fans didn’t hate Wise so much, he could have turned things around.
So what’s the incentive for Newcastle to hire Kinnear on a full-time basis? He is for all intents and purposes an old manager working with a new manager’s reputation. He’s an old-school manager who accepted the terms offered to him only because he had been out of the game for a long time – if he had been in Keegan’s or Curbishley’s position I don’t see him as someone who would stick around for too long, and that’s the problem.
The continental structure is still in place at Newcastle, and although Tottenham have done away with it Newcastle are still playing the game. Will Kinnear be comfortable with deferring to Wise when (and if) January comes with Kinnear still in charge? Will Kinnear accept being leashed on a ‘rolling, month-to-month’ contract when the year ends and Newcastle are firmly mid-table, or at least firmly out of relegation troubles?
For Newcastle to hire Kinnear, he needs to demonstrate that he is heads and shoulders above the average football club manager, and he has yet to prove that. For Kinnear to stick with Newcastle, they need to prove that they can back their manager and help him achieve the goals they’ve set for him.
At this point, neither looks likely. Let’s talk again after Christmas, or as Kinnear insists, after Chelsea wallop Newcastle United at Stamford Bridge on November 22.