I’ve been told that a few of you didn’t really like the Tony Pulis article last week and, to be honest, I expected that. I’ve never danced to the tune of certain people in this industry. They want me sacked. Unfortunately for them, I’ve never been sacked in my life*. Look at my record. Where have these people been? On another planet? I’ve written 400 times for The Guardian**, I’ve won three Sports Writer of the Year awards***, I’ve travelled all over the world as a journalist****, but already they’re saying, ‘Oh, look out, Macintosh. Unibet will get rid of you.’ But that’s the people there, or the people there that I have upset, and they have a grudge so I expect it. It’s all water off a duck’s shoulders though.
If you think that the biggest problem with Joe Kinnear’s return to Newcastle United is that he can’t pronounce Derek Llambias’ name, you’ve missed the point by light years. It is Kinnear’s slipperiness, his fleeting regard for the truth that threatens to destroy all the progress the club has made since they were so shamefully relegated in 2009.
If it wasn’t for the fact that numerous reliable sources have confirmed that this is really happening, that his office at the training ground is being set up as we speak, I’d be tempted to dismiss his words as those of someone who is not entirely well.
He hasn’t even been confirmed as the director of football yet and he’s already brought two days of negative headlines with him. Imagine what he could do over the course of six months.
Kinnear’s late night appearance on Talksport, and well done Andy Goldstein and co for landing it, was a humiliation even to supporters who have thought that experience had inoculated them against embarrassment. It was absolutely spectacular, a grand firework display of mistruths exploding one after another, each more awe-inspiring than the last.
“Derek Lambeezee (sic) was the director of football.” – Not unless he was doing it in secret, he wasn’t.
“I had over 400 games for Tottenham.” – No, you didn’t. You had 251.
“I’ve been manager of the year three times.” – You’ve been manager of the year once!
“When you’re at Wimbledon, you find the players yourself. There ain’t no budget.” – You signed John Hartson for £7.5m in 1999 when £7.5m was a fortune!
“I sold Robbie Earle for x,y,z.” - Robbie Earle retired a year after you left the club!
“I brought Krul to the club.” – Krul signed for Newcastle in 2005, a full three years before you arrived!
And that is hardly a comprehensive dissection. I only have so much room, you see.
Most entertaining was the suggestion that the local press didn’t like him because he didn’t, “dance to their tune.” The local press don’t want you to dance, they’d just prefer it if you didn’t repeatedly announce things that never come to pass, like takeovers and new contracts and big name Italian signings. That just makes them look silly in print. Oh, and not calling them ‘c**ts’ would probably help as well.
The other thing about the journalists up there is that they care very deeply about the fortunes of their local clubs. Partly, this is because their job security is intrinsically linked to the success of those clubs, but mostly because they understand the importance of football to the region.
It sounds like such a cliché, but until you’ve lived up there, you can’t comprehend how intense it all is. You don’t see many Liverpool or Manchester United shirts in Newcastle. There’s no dilution of loyalty. It’s like a black and white biosphere has been lowered over the city, blocking everything else out, trapping the passion, letting it heat up to dangerous levels.
The local press are not contemptuous of Kinnear because he gets people’s names wrong. Sir Bobby Robson was doing that for years. They are contemptuous of him because they know what’s going to happen here. His arrival is going to undermine Alan Pardew, unsettle the players and further alienate the supporters. It’s not an accident waiting to happen. It’s an accident in progress. It’s a runaway ice cream van, music blaring, smashing into one car after another and there’s a whole lot of hill still to go. That’s why people are angry.
But even so…Yohan Kebab? Give me strength.
* - Okay, so I was sacked by an Essex cleaning firm in 1999 for falling asleep midway through my nightshift. But that hardly counts.
** - Three appearances on Football Weekly, but it’s the same thing, right?
*** - Well, all right. I’ve won one award. The 2010 NOPA for Best Blog Contributor.
**** - I’m off to Minorca next month. Not for journalism, but still…
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