Who would support Newcastle United? Not for the first time, I have been asking myself the question this week.
Since the halcyon days of Sir Bobby Robson’s stewardship, through the bitter days of Graeme Souness, Glenn Roeder and Sam Allardyce, I thought I had seen it all.
But the appointment of Joe Kinnear as director of football this week has made me believe that the club I love will never be able to tame the beast of self-destruction.
66-year-old Kinnear is not the monster he portrays himself as in press conferences. Nor, despite his patent uncertainty over the identity of most of the Newcastle United squad, is he an unintelligent man.
But it is painful to acknowledge that whilst the likes of Tottenham Hotspur and Everton are appointing vibrant young managers, chairman Mike Ashley is placing faith in a footballing dinosaur to oversee the club’s transfer dealings.
An unkind description of a man who guided Wimbledon to sixth place in the Premier League in 1994? Not when you consider the first decisive act of his new role at St James’ Park.
A deal for 25-year-old FC Twente centre-back Douglas, arranged by manager Alan Pardew and chief scout Graham Carr, was all but concluded.
Kinnear immediately asserted his inexplicable authority by eschewing the transfer, citing the fact that he had not heard of the player (a player with Champions League experience, and a key member of a side that has won Dutch Eredivisie titles).
Douglas is allegedly heartbroken at the collapse of his move, stemming not from a failed medical or a change of heart from the Dutch side, but from the whimsical flourish of a man who is patently out of sync with the globalisation of modern football.
It is difficult to strike an emotional balance between contempt and embarrassment at the situation. Oliver Holt’s excellent piece in the Daily Mirror highlights Kinnear’s own vulnerability, something to be concerned about rather than to mock.
For fans of the club such as myself, the feeling is one of horror. I feel as though my club is being paraded naked in front of whispering onlookers from the footballing community, sniggering at the scattered remnants of the club’s dignity.
After Kinnear’s disastrous interview on talkSPORT last week, Yohan Cabaye will now be synonymous with kebabs; never a flattering state of affairs. Jonas Gutierrez is now otherwise known as ‘Goaltierrez’, an error laced with irony given that he only found the net once last season.
Thanks to Mr Ashley, chaos reigns once again on Tyneside, just when fans could have been forgiven for thinking that the days of constant tumult had passed.
Pardew, who has remained admirably dignified in the aftermath of this most emasculating of developments, has been undermined just at the point when he needed support after a testing campaign.
Despite his pithy declaration that he will remain at the club, his patience may not last for long.
I feel as though my club is being paraded naked in front of whispering onlookers from the footballing community, sniggering at the scattered remnants of the club’s dignity
In the midst of my exam-induced stress, it was a footballing rather than academic nightmare which caused me to break out in cold sweats last week.
I dreamed that Pardew resigned after a home defeat to Steve Bruce’s Hull City, citing a breakdown in relations with the board.
While promising and experienced managers flirted with the vacant position, Ashley spurned them in favour of reinstating Kinnear as manager.
In a whirlwind of expletives, flexibility with historical fact and outdated tactics, the former Republic of Ireland defender safely guided this proud club to relegation to the Championship.
Unfortunately, this dream could well become reality. The propensity for Newcastle United to self-combust is too well-publicised, yet too spontaneous to specifically predict, that the next development could happen at any moment.
Thank you, Mike Ashley, for ruining the club’s pre-season. Thank you, Mike Ashley, for ushering the club from a period of welcome stability and harmony back into the familiar waters of turmoil.
We Newcastle fans truly have been spoiled over the past couple of seasons. Contentment and solidity can only be transitory on Tyneside.
It’s time to strap myself back in for a bumpy ride. Why would anybody support Newcastle United? Who knows.