This is a very late post. But this blog needs to repeat it, as if the point hasn't been made enough.
While we wait for Newcastle's first significant signing of the summer (if there is going to be one at all), it just needs to be acknowledged that Newcastle United Football Club have arguably the worst front office in all of professional sports.
As an American, I know there are some really bad front offices here. Actually, there is a long list: The Chiefs, Knicks, Mets, Pirates, Bruins, (Arizona) Cardinals, Twins, and Royals, just to name a few.
So apparently there has been a power struggle between manager Alan Pardew and chief scout Graham Carr. Alan Pardew, of course, has recently finished one of the most disappointing seasons in recent Newcastle United history, with a 16th place finish in the table, and a staggering 45 league goals conceded.
Having signed an 8-year contract last October, it is understandable that the board would put Pardew on a short leash. But their next move has the press, fans, and even the competition confused and bewildered. The club hired former manager (and arguably one of the poorest managers in the top flight in recent years) Joe Kinnear as Director of Football.
The news of Kinnear’s appointment leaked on Sunday June 16, just a week after I returned from my annual visit to Vieques, and around the time I was hoping to hear that Newcastle was preparing a few bids for players once the transfer window opened on JUly 1. Newcastle fans remember how disastrous Kinnear’s tenure was with the club as manager. But it still came as a shock when Kinnear walked into a radio station on Monday June 17, before the club had confirmed his appointment, and declared himself to be the final word on new signings, as well as Alan Pardew’s boss. He also declared, before the official announcement, that Managing Director Derek Llambias was on his way out. Oh, and it was simply offensive and bizarre.
Derek Llambias did indeed resign. Friendly with fans, and seemingly on board with Pardew’s French and African recruiting plan for the club, Llambias’ departure set off alarms all over Tyneside.
But when Pardew broke his silence after his summer vacation on July 8, he showed no sign of wanting to quit, and expressed his commitment to the new power structure in the front office. He even said that he and Llambias didn’t work well together.
It would appear that Alan Pardew has the toughest task of any Premier League manager in the 2013-2014 campaign. He has to use the squad he currently has, plus or minus no more than 4 players total, and deliver a top 12 finish, while being overseen by one of the least successful and most despised men in all of English football. Joe Kinnear hadn’t been re-hired by any top flight club since being fired by Newcastle in 2009. His being re-hired by the club that should know how terrible he is makes this story all the more extraordinary.
It will be, in words of The Guardian’s Louise Taylor, a minefield.
UPDATE, July 21, 11:00 EDT, The Mag reports that Kinnear has just hired former Sunderland and Newcastle player, Mick Harford, as a coach. He had agreed to join East London club Milwall as a coach just last month. This probably puts additional restraints on Alan Pardew, and not just because Harford used to wear red and white stripes. These are interesting times, indeed.
UPDATE, July 22, Harford has rejected Kinnear's job offer. Smart move, Lad.