Kinnear makes Wenger claim in shambolic 'Kebab' interview

Jun 18, 2013

Ex-Newcastle manager says he is club's director of football but gets players' names badly wrong

Stu Forster/Getty Images

JOE KINNEAR'S shock return to Newcastle has already descended into near-farce after he gave a bizarre radio interview in which he mispronounced players' names, wildly exaggerated his own achievements and boasted he had Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger on speed dial.

The former Wimbledon manager, who was in charge of Newcastle for five months during the 2008-9 season when the club was relegated, announced his return as director of football on Sunday night, but as yet there has been no official confirmation from the club.

That has not stopped Kinnear, who is deeply unpopular with the Newcastle fans, from giving interviews, including one with TalkSport on Monday night that The Guardian described as "shambolic and often contradictory".

Kinnear insisted he had signed a contract on Sunday and was now to be in charge of signing players, reporting directly to owner Mike Ashley, a role that appears to undermine manager Alan Pardew. He also claimed he had "more intelligence" than Toon supporters who objected to his appointment.

During the interview he also mispronounced the name of several players. He memorably called Yohan Cabaye "Kebab", referred to Hatem Ben Arfa as "Ben Afri", pronounced Shola Ameobi as "Amamobi" and called Jonas Gutierrez "Goltirez".

He even managed to get the name of the man he is replacing in the Newcastle hierarchy wrong, calling him Derek Lambezi, rather than Llambias.

But that was not all. Kinnear also claimed to have played 400 games for Spurs (it was 258), won three manager of the year awards (he has one) and signed goalkeeper Tim Krul (who joined Newcastle three years before him).

"I can open the door to any manager in the world, anyone," he boasted. "I've spent my whole life talking to Alex Ferguson, week in, week out ... I can pick the phone up at any time of the day and speak to Arsene Wenger, any manager in the league."

The Daily Telegraph describes the appointment as a "public relations catastrophe".

But although Kinnear has not helped matters, not everything is his fault, says Mike Dickinson in The Times. "Kinnear is guilty only of saying 'yes'.It is Ashley who has created drama out of nothing; who has brought soap opera back to Tyneside.

"Kinnear's return creates only unrest and potential disharmony in a significant summer after last season's slump."

And pity the St James's Park faithful. "Most Newcastle fans regard Kinnear as a key player in one of the most depressing and discordant chapters in the club's modern history," says Louise Taylor in The Guardian, referring to relegation in 2009.

By bringing back Kinnear the club has saddled itself with "a director of football whose appointment seems a total contradiction of Newcastle's current philosophy". The club has moved on since 2009, she says. "At a time when Newcastle's principal need is arguably for an additional, technically accomplished and possibly French-speaking coach, Kinnear's return seems inexplicable."

George Caulkin, North East football correspondent of [5]The Times, was blunt in his assessment of Kinnear. "He tarnished a great institution," he writes.

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Is he that stupid or an old school xenophobes? I cannot tell.

He may of had a few too many drinks.