Can Newcastle bounce straight back?

By Online Editorial

The owner can’t sell the club, the players are disgruntled and now there’s talk of Joe Kinnear returning on an interim basis. Ralph Ellis on why it beggars belief this farce of a club are still favourites to win The Championship.

Just when you think Newcastle have slumped so low they can only go up again, there comes another hard reminder that the turmoil is still not over. After weeks of gossip and rumour about Malaysian consortiums, groups from Hong Kong, and even the return of Freddie Shepherd, it’s growing increasingly clear that Mike Ashley has not found a new owner for the Toon.

The sportswear billionaire, according to this morning’s Daily Mail, is about to invite Joe Kinnear to make a sensational return to the club as interim manager. Newcastle have rushed out a denial, insisting ‘reports stating Kinnear will be appointed manager are untrue’. But read the wording carefully and it has still left the door open for a temporary return, just to add to the confusion.

Kinnear’s first contract, awarded in the chaos that followed the angry departure of Kevin Keegan at the start of last season, has now expired. But the very fact that another stint by the 62-year-old, who insists he is fit again after the heart operation which forced him to stand down in February, is even a possibility just underlines the confusion that still reigns.

It might not be such a bad move. Kinnear actually collected 20 points from his 18 games in charge of Newcastle last season, and if that had been matched by any of the other four regimes then Toon would still be a Premier League club.

The bottom line is that while Ashley might have been willing to take a loss on the £250million or so that he has ploughed into the club, most of the prospective buyers have taken one look at the books and asked him to write off the whole lot. With a crippling wage bill of players that have precious little transfer value, and a squad that looks totally unsuited to the Championship, any new owners would need to take drastic surgery.

Captain Nicky Butt has just admitted the scale of the problem. “We’re fed up with waiting to see what’s going to happen,” he told this morning’s papers.

“For the last five or six weeks it’s been: ‘Something is happening at the end of this week, or that week’, and it never does. We’re all in the same position, young lads or old – no-one knows.”

Amazingly Newcastle remain 2.95 favourites for promotion and that has to be layed. The same applies, with knobs on, to the 6.2 for them to win the division. No club can come through the sort of chaos behind the scenes which is ruling on Tyneside and win a 46-match League.

Reproduced with permission from © The Sporting Exchange Limited

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