A director of football is an ambiguous title and a good director of football can operate in various ways. He can form an effective link between board and playing staff, and he can also be the mouthpiece of the board and ownership. In the case of Newcastle’s new director of football, he can be what he lets himself think he is.
It is of huge concern that Kinnear’s role has not been properly defined. The official statement has only outlined that Alan Pardew and Graham Carr answer to him, without outlining his job. This wouldn’t be as much of an issue if the man in question was a focused and professional director of football. The varying contradictions on his role in transfers suggests a man who is either far too arrogant for the job or in a state of confusion. Either one of these scenarios is as likely as the other, and both show how truly inadequate Kinnear is for the role.
Apprehension towards this role is that it doesn’t work in English football, where managers traditionally like to have sole control of team affairs, but in recent times, this view has been challenged. At West Brom, their system of a director of football has been influential in their progress. By having the recently departed Dan Ashworth at the helm, West Brom have avoided turbulent changes when managers come and go. Ashworth, as a constant, has helped to keep the playing side as consistent as possible, and has been influential in finding talent such as Mulumbu. West Brom are not the only ones to employ a similar method, as Man City have begun to set the foundations for a long term project. Tixi Begiristain came in before Manuel Pellegrini, and will aid the new manager immensely. By having a fellow countryman who knows the club well, Pelligrini’s transition has been made all the more smooth. On top of this, Begiristain boasts immense footballing contacts and knowledge. He also operates as the owner’s mouthpiece and has clearly outlined the club’s future intentions to all involved at City and the fans as well.
When you look at football directors across the league, it makes the Joe Kinnear situation look all the more worrying. Kinnear does not have great connections and besides Newcastle, he has been unemployed for nine years. Kinnear is also shamefully poor at PR, as his two interviews have shown. He doesn’t understand the club, media or fans, preferring to mock and insult, rather than build bridges. He is not a man of consistency like Ashworth, already suggesting he will move on far too many players.
The biggest concern for fans in respects to Kinnear has to be his level of control. While at other clubs, the directors are not managers, or have managerial intentions, Kinnear does. While the relationships are also key at other clubs, they are not permanently attached to the manager’s side. At Newcastle, Kinnear is a man who wants to return to management and is going to hang over Alan Pardew like an oversized vulture. No other director of football travels on the same bus as the players and the manager. No other director of football has an office built right near the manager’s. No other director of football constantly criticises the worker of major players in public.
While most fans are quite rightly opposed to the idea of Joe Kinnear being within a 100 mile radius of the club, there is little that can be done about it. It is the responsibility of the club and Joe to properly outline his role as a Director of Football, and to leave the crucial partnership of Graham Carr alone to allow the ticking time bomb at Newcastle to be delayed as long as possible.
As it stands, Newcastle do not have a director of football. They have a dinosaur of football.