Ask the majority of football fans what a job of “director of football” entails and you’re likely to get a rather wide range of answers. From liaising between the manager and the chairman and acting on behalf of both, to suggest which players the club should or should not purchase, the life of a director of football is often obscure, never boring.
Normally, however, when such a figure leaves a football club, the director of football’s departure is widely considered a negative, an event likely to have a destabilising effect on the club, as many had feared Nicola Cortese’s resignation would have on Southampton.
In Newcastle’s case, however, the departure of their director of football will have only positive repercussions on the club, if any at all, given that Joe Kinnear seemed more eager to boast about the size of his contact book than to actively pursue players in the transfer window.
Kinnear’s departure is an unexpected but largely welcome victory for Alan Pardew, who seemed to be on borrowed time when the former Newcastle manager returned on Tyneside last summer, accompanied by the usual diplomacy in dealing with the press.
If he wasn’t a professional – one who knows more about football than anybody else at that, at least according to himself – Kinnear would be the perfect parody of a man stuck in a bygone era, who probably wonders why players no longer smoke cigarettes in the dressing room and is slightly puzzled as to why nobody refers to the League Cup as the “Milk Cup” any longer.
If his shocking inability at pronouncing foreign names could have raised a smile – it didn’t – claiming the credit for signing Tim Krul – when the Dutch keeper was instead recruited by Graeme Souness – and boasting to have access to virtually any manager in the world as well as knowing more about football than any Newcastle fan were simply the rants of a man who seemed dangerously detached from the reality of Premier League football.
Kinnear’s departure, welcome though it might have been by everyone associated with Newcastle bar Mike Ashley, has come at a cost for Alan Pardew’s side, though, with the void generated by Yohan Cabaye’s departure left unfilled until the summer.
Furthermore, two loan signings in two transfer window are a meagre return for a man as well linked within football as Kinnear claimed to be and while Loic Remy’s impact has been outstanding, Newcastle can count themselves lucky not to have European competitions to negotiate this season, given their wafer-thin squad would have struggled to cope.
Alan Pardew has done an excellent job this season in steering his side in the top eight of the Premier League, but in the summer big questions will be asked of the club and of the direction they want to move to and with Kinnear no longer in the picture, the Newcastle manager could be the one calling the shots.
Are Newcastle happy to finish in the top eight or are they ambitious enough to challenge for a trophy, perhaps in the shape of a domestic cup? Will Mike Ashley back his manager in the summer or will Pardew again be left fighting for scraps in the next transfer window? Were Newcastle to clinch a Europa League spot, would they treat the competition like an annoyance as they did last season or would they consider it a realistic silverware opportunity?
That and other questions will have to be answered, but Kinnear’s departure is likely to make things a whole lot easier for Alan Pardew.