Newcastle have no immediate plans to replace Kinnear - with Llambias not set to return

CAUGHT IN THE MIDDLE: Newcastle boss Alan Pardew

CAUGHT IN THE MIDDLE: Newcastle boss Alan Pardew

First published in Sport
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NEWCASTLE UNITED have no plans for an immediate replacement of Joe Kinnear and will not be restoring Derek Llambias to his former role as managing director.

Kinnear was removed from his position as director of football on Monday after a much-derided eight-month reign that saw him fail to make a single permanent signing.

The 67-year-old spent Monday discussing Papiss Cisse’s future with club secretary Lee Charnley, but by the late afternoon it became clear that he would be leaving his position with immediate effect.

In truth, the Irishman has had a limited input into Newcastle’s transfer affairs for the majority of his second spell at St James’ Park, and it was telling that Charnley travelled to France to discuss the technicalities of Yohan Cabaye’s £20m transfer to Paris St Germain at the end of last month rather than Kinnear.

Monday’s events, which came eight months after Llambias’ departure, leave a major vacuum at executive level with Newcastle boasting neither a chairman nor a director of football ahead of a summer that could see a major overhaul of the playing squad.

A midfield replacement for Cabaye is required, Loic Remy is expected to leave at the end of his loan spell, Shola Ameobi is due to become a free agent and Fabricio Coloccini continues to seek a return to his native Argentina.

Nevertheless, there are no immediate plans to recruit a boardroom figure with experience of initiating transfer discussions or signing off deals.

Instead, Charnley and finance director John Irving are expected to assume greater responsibilities for the day-to-day management of the club’s off-field affairs, with chief scout Graham Carr continuing to enjoy a great deal of autonomy when it comes to identifying and assessing potential signings.

Ultimately, however, Mike Ashley will continue to enjoy sole control over long-term strategy and it will be Newcastle’s controversial owner who dictates which players arrive or depart in the summer.

Whether Kinnear’s departure strengthens Alan Pardew’s hand when it comes to transfer discussions remains to be seen, with the manager conceding on Saturday that he was not “solely in charge” of transfers.

Pardew’s relationship with Kinnear was always an uneasy one, with the tension between the pair no doubt stemming in part from the latter’s long-standing desire to return to frontline management and close personal relationship with Ashley.

His exit could strengthen Pardew’s hand in future talks with Ashley, although Kinnear was broadly supportive of the manager’s desire to recruit more domestic players with Premier League experience, something Ashley has tended to bridle against.

One of the main difficulties in assessing the fall-out from Kinnear’s departure is that his remit was never really clear, and former Newcastle goalkeeper Shay Given, who is currently playing for Middlesbrough, feels the lack of a well-defined job description was always going to be an issue.

“People didn’t know what to make of it when Joe Kinnear joined,” said Given. “There were question marks about what his job was in the first place. Even Alan Pardew was scratching his head I think when the news was announced. I don’t think it was a match made in heaven reading what different people have said.

“It was not an ideal situation, and when they sold Cabaye last week it obviously came to a head. They didn’t replace their best player this season, arguably, with anyone. To sell him, which was for good money, and not replace him was the biggest frustration for the fans.”

Given spent more than a decade at St James’ Park, and is therefore well versed in the heightened emotions that can turn triumph into despair in the space of a few hours.

The former Republic of Ireland international loved the drama of life at Newcastle, but admits a sense of realism sometimes goes out of the window as Tyneside’s sporting soap opera unfolds.

“The problem with Newcastle is that they are either going to win the league or they are going to get relegated,” he said. “That’s the mentality they need to get out of.

“They are eighth in the league at the minute, and in the grand scheme of things there will be a lot of managers up and down the country who would swap places with them in a heartbeat. They have to be realistic as well.

“You could argue at the start of January, when they were doing so well, that had Mike Ashley dipped in his pocket and bought a couple of players and kept Cabaye, they could have been really pushing for Europe.

“They are still pushing, but it is more difficult now. They’re probably thinking, ‘Where’s the ambition of the club?’ They have made some good signings, but they have also made some good money.

“He (Ashley) will tell you it is a business, and most clubs have to be a business now. Fans just want to see a bit more ambition, but at the end of the day, it’s his money.”

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