I am in firm agreement with the universal opinion that Joe Kinnear should never have been involved in our beloved club, Newcastle United, in any capacity.
He has also rightly received severe criticism for his bizarre public outbursts and abject performance as Director of Football.
However, for all the delusional self-aggrandizing hot air that Kinnear blows, I happen to agree with him on one point he consistently raises, that he would have kept Newcastle in the Premier League during the ill-fated 2008-09 season had he not been the victim of heart problems.
This week in the Chronicle, Chief Sports Writer, Lee Ryder, noted at the start of yet another polemic article in support of John Carver for new manager, that Joe Kinnear ‘laid the foundations for relegation during the 2008-09 season’.
If Ryder had taken the time to look back on the unfortunate events of that season, he would realize that the foundations of relegation were actually laid by Mike Ashley when he failed to back Keegan in the transfer market with the players he wanted, then subsequently did not act quickly enough to appoint a new established manager in the aftermath of his departure.
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Prior to Kinnear’s arrival, Newcastle had won 1 game, drawn 1 game and lost four games. If we look at the statistics between Kinnear’s first match, Everton at home, and technically his last match in charge, West Brom away, which he would have prepared the team for before suffering heart trouble, then his record is 5 wins, 8 draws and 6 losses. The football was not pretty, but he was grinding out results playing a balanced 4-4-2 formation with two strikers and two wingers providing chances from out wide. After Kinnear’s heart attack Newcastle’s record was abysmal, with 1 win, 4 draws and 7 losses.
As we all know now, Newcastle were relegated needing only a point to survive. I know this is controversial, but I happen to agree with Kinnear that given the improved performances and results he achieved before his heart problems, that he would have turned one of the one nil away defeats at Bolton, Tottenham or Aston Villa into a point, or one of the score draws at Hull or Stoke into a win. I am almost certain that he would have won one of the home games against Sunderland, Everton, Portsmouth or Fulham that would have led to survival.
Unfortunately, we will never know if Kinnear could have kept us up, but there is evidence in the results he achieved prior to his heart attack that he could organize the side effectively and get the results needed to stay in the league.
It is easy to criticise Kinnear, but he did a decent job in difficult circumstances during that season before his health problems.
In fact, with 5 wins and 5 draws, a total of 23 points on top of the four achieved before his arrival, it could be argued that Kinnear laid the foundations for survival that season.
In hindsight, therefore, perhaps Newcastle fans should look past their dislike of Kinnear and rather objectively consider the contributions of Ashley, Hughton and Shearer in failing to get the 8 points needed for survival that season; particularly the latter, whose bizzare team selections, such as Nicky Butt and Alan Smith in midfield, or choosing a very young Andy Carroll over established strikers like Viduka, Martins and Owen, left little to the imagination and certainly contributed to the failure to get the point we ultimately needed to survive.
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