On the face of it, already a bruised one. Mike Ashley’s choice as technical director, or whatever you want to call it – Joe himself doesn’t seem too sure – of Joe Kinnear at Newcastle United seems daft to the point of aberration.
It’s not that the appointment is flying in the face of Geordie parochialism and insularity. Alan Pardew, after all, is a Londoner who made his playing name there and once managed West Ham United; he seems to have been largely accepted by the Magpie fans.
Chris Hughton, though he has Irish nationality and has played for Ireland, is in essence another Londoner, essentially a Spurs man as player and coach, who took Magpies out of the Second Division, as I prefer to call it, with skill and dexterity, and should arguably never have been sacked. A poor reward.
And when it comes to Magpie heroes, what about Malcolm Macdonald, who began though unhappy with Fulham, whom he would later manage, and who was a wildly popular and prolific centre forward in the long and distinguished list of Newcastle number nine’s?
Previously, I know, there had been great resistance among Newcastle fans to the appointment, well over Kevin Keegan’s head (I remember being at Highbury one evening when Kevin at the Press Conference did not even know Dennis Wise had been watching the game from the stands) of Dennis as what Kinnear has become now. That didn’t work at all and Dennis didn’t last long.
Now how long will Joe last? Let me declare an interest here. I have known, liked and appreciated him for many years, even if as he well knew, I shuddered at some of the excesses of Vinnie Jones, John Fashanu and his aggressive Wimbledon team.
Irrespective of his explosive, self-destructive performance at his first press conference, he is basically a man of humour, geniality and with his impressive wife, hospitality; besides being an engaging raconteur. He can tell you fascinating stories of how he coached in such exotic parts of the world as India and Nepal.
But to dig him out of retirement after so long was always to run a monumental risk, and that press conference when he mispronounced so many names, muddled the statistics of his Wimbledon days and was aggressive beyond all reason.
With even the Newcastle Evening Chronicle so scathingly against him, how long can he survive? Irish he may be by nationality, but he grew up largely in England and specifically in Watford. He was a useful and reliable right back. The moment when, on that torrid Monday evening at White Hart Lane, he allowed Arsenal’s Georgie Armstrong to slip by him and create Ray Kennedy’s Championship winning goal, was an untypical one; though having been there, I can still remember it.
If Mike Ashley ran his hugely successful sports good business as he does Newcastle United its value dwarfed by that of Ashley’s Sports Direct – it would probably go bankrupt rather than flourish as it does. But even the richest and most successful businessmen world wide, as we know, so often transmogrify from hardheaded tough-minded capitalists into feckless adventurers when it comes to owning a football club. Roman Abramovich too? Oligarch of infinite wealth he may be, but what of Andrei Shevchenko and Fernando Torres?
Will Brazil now be able to stage the ensuing World Cup now that the whole country seems to have gone up in flames, inveighing against the indecent expense of the World Cup, with its herd of white elephants all too likely to thunder into view once the tournament is over?
I am perfectly prepared to believe that the Brazilian Football Confederation is now as white as snow. Joao Havelange, after all, that disgraceful manipulator, now, though at 96, obliged to resign as honorary President of FIFA, is there no more. And neither is his odious ex son-in-law Ricardo Teixeira, who was actually top banana of Brazil’s World Cup organisation until he like Havelange was found guilty of speculation in the multi million dollar ISL scandal.
For years, chapter and verse has been easily available on Teixeira’s sordid rise from financial obscurity to huge wealth and influence, thanks to the backing of Havelange.
What intrigues and surprises me, as one who makes little of the triumphs and vicissitudes of international economics, is that for some time now we have been told that Brazil, like India, has one of the most vibrant, productive and wealth producing economies in the world, far more vibrant and productive than our own. But now, suddenly, we are told that bankruptcy looms, that the state, economically inefficient and corrupt, is tottering. All this in a mere matter of weeks, or so it seems. Who pray was fooling whom?
No wonder John Ruskin called economics The Dismal Science.
I could not have greater sympathy for the 300 and more football fans from all over England who recently laid London siege to the headquarters of the Premier, alias Greed Is Good League, protesting against the vertiginous cost of match tickets.
Cardiff City, a lone source of sanity so far, are boldly and bravely reducing the price of their tickets but elsewhere in the Premiership they remain monumentally high.
The Premiership people have responded that very large sums have been expended on improving the stadia; but the truth is that by embarrassing comparison with the Bundesliga, tickets themselves remain exorbitant in the extreme. And the feeble defence that large sums are spent on the stadia pales into irrelevance when you reflect that where the largest, these exponential, sums of money go is into the pockets of the millionaire and multi-millionaire, players, and on transfer fees which soar into the stratosphere.
From this season, the Premier League clubs, thanks to the intervention of BT television, will receive still more mind blowing amounts of money. But they seem to be haplessly caught up in an irresistible whirlwind of compulsive spending, dreading to be left behind. The Premiership itself has no way, no leverage to change them. Until, if ever, the people vote with their feet, extravagance will rule.