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Good luck, Joe. You'll need it

The reaction in the Soccernet newsroom was pure and unadulterated laughter. Just when things at Newcastle United could not get any more amusing ... they did. In appointing Joe Kinnear as interim manager, Mike Ashley, Dennis Wise and their assorted cronies truly brought the house down.

Not that any of us hold anything against Joe Kinnear. A football man in the old sense of the words, a jolly nice chap to boot by all accounts too. If any of us were Joe we'd take the dough and enjoy the experience of being back in the big time for as long as it lasts. He is to be wished the best of luck.

Because, quite frankly, he'll need it. Newcastle United is a ship lurching towards the foot of the ocean. The optimism of an opening day draw at Old Trafford is as distant a memory as the days when Supermac was strutting his stuff before the Gallowgate. Keegan has gone, the fans are in uproar and the club's owner is a figure of Geordie hate.

We have been here before. But even Newcastle have struggled to previously match a tragic-comedy that Shakespeare himself would have been proud of. Mike Ashley has been pictured staggering drunkenly in nightclubs as a £200m investment heads down in value as its team loses game after game.

He is rumoured to be a losing gambler to the tune of £300m on the stock market crash of the last fortnight. Half-a-billion quid in a matter of days? Impressive stuff. An alleged $225,000 bar-bill seems like small potatoes now. From beer-swilling man of the people to sozzled spendthrift in four weeks is quite some public decline from someone who was once known as a recluse.

Ashley's attempt to sell the club have seen him "burn his bridges" in the Middle East after an ill-fated trip to Dubai saw him fail to find any takers. A Nigerian consortium headed by the man who gave us 'Rio's World Cup Wind-Ups', a comedy vehicle for a Manchester United defender, looks to be Ashley's best hope of getting anything near the £450m worth he puts on the club. That value is dwindling day on day.

Terry Venables almost seems a sensible choice now. El Tel's rebuttal after two days of talks reflected the lack of choice that Newcastle were faced with for a job with very few prospects. Any new owners would surely rid themselves of any link to the 'cockney mafia' that are so alienated from the Toon Army and a takeover could be complete within days. Keegan will be riding in on his white charger to save the day if the new proprietors listen to the fans. Alan Shearer will be King Kev's wing-man if reports are to be believed.

It is said that Kinnear was way down the list that Dennis Wise had drawn up to take over the reins from befuddled clipboard king Chris Hughton, himself a mystery arrival on Tyneside back in the early days of Keegan's second coming; one whom Keegan had little idea was arriving and seemed another crony of Wise to add to an already confusing mix.

The image of Wise flicking through a rolodex of old pals and associates and drawing a blank until cuddly Joe agreed to take the job until the end of October is a comedic one. Squint a little bit and Kinnear looks almost like a more rotund Kevin Keegan. There, as far as Geordie fans go, the similarities end.

Kinnear is a southerner, a man whose most recent managerial experience saw him sacked by Nottingham Forest as they propped up the Championship. He had his best success with Wimbledon, a club who were as far removed from Newcastle United as it was possible to be. And that ended nearly nine years ago.

His arrival further adds weight to the locally loathed idea that Newcastle is a club run by southerners for a southerner who has no idea what the fans from the North East want. As for the style of football Kinnear's teams have played...

It seems unlikely that Kinnear will be a Londoner taken to the hearts of the Toon Army. Any friend of Wise is no friend of theirs. The drama will continue until the baddies - Wise, Ashley, Tony Jiminez and Derek Llambias - depart the scene. Maybe the king will return...

Blackburn visit on Saturday. Yes, amid all this, there's actually football to be played.


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