Director of football gone, best player sold - rudderless Newcastle are left drifting towards trouble

For the second successive transfer window the club failed to make a permanent signing

Emblazoned on the side of the Milburn Stand at St James’ Park, at around half past seven on Wednesday night, was a projected advert for Paddy Power. “Kinnear out on a free,” it read. “Who said he couldn’t do good business?”

Joe Kinnear was pictured in a dunce’s hat. Self-mockery. It is leading to fear and self-loathing. Everything is for sale at Newcastle United.

As the advert correctly asserted, Newcastle no longer have a director of football. On Wednesday, as Tottenham tore the heart out of a tired club with a 4-0 win, there was no visible show of power. Mike Ashley, the owner, was, once again, absent. There is still no managing director, following the resignation of Derek Llambias last summer. Graham Carr, the chief scout and second highest-ranking member of current staff, was also not in attendance. There is no suggestion of boardroom fight to turn round their worst run at St James’ since 1978.

Newcastle were relegated when they last lost four successive home games. That seems impossible now, despite a run of nine games that have brought seven defeats and seven games in which they have not scored. In November, Kinnear revealed that a controversial bonus scheme had been implemented at the club which would reward every member of staff if Newcastle finished in the top 10. On Boxing Day they demolished Stoke 5-1 and marched into the Premier League top six, six points behind leaders Arsenal. “People keep talking about the Champions League, and there’s always no mention of us,” said manager Alan Pardew. “I have a wry smile. Great, write us off.”

Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew looks tense as he watches the match Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew looks tense as he watches the match (PA) There was no smile late on Wednesday night, wry or otherwise. “Of course I’m not happy,” he said. “This is a game where you, as a manager, expect life and limb on the football pitch. I made my views very clear in the dressing room. That’s where they will stay. I’m not really going to say too much other than to give a message to our fans to say that wasn’t good enough.”

The demise has taken only six weeks. Just over a month after talking of the Champions League, Pardew is fighting for his footballing life. In six weeks momentum has halted. Yohan Cabaye, the side’s best player has gone, undersold to Paris Saint-Germain, but there is far more than just the sale of one player. There is no trust, no desire nor, because of a power vacuum, accountability. There has been no meaningful domestic cup run for Newcastle in the seven years that Ashley has been in power. Worse, there came the admission from Pardew before another ill-fated derby with Sunderland, with the transfer window still to close, that in eighth place Newcastle were top of their league.

It reinforced a barely hidden desire to avoid the Europa League, which was blamed, rightly or wrongly, for much of last season’s woes, when the club was nearly relegated. For the second successive transfer window Newcastle failed to make a permanent signing. It was a statement of non-intent.

The contrast to two years ago remains relevant. Two weeks into 2012, Newcastle were seventh, three points behind fifth-placed Arsenal and three points above eighth-placed Stoke. After heavy persuasion from Llambias, Pardew and Carr, Ashley agreed to sanction the £9m signing of Papiss Cissé from SC Freiburg. Cissé was a revelation, scoring 13 times in the 14 Premier League games he played that season.

By 6 May, with two games of the season to go, Newcastle, who had won seven of their previous eight, were level with fourth-placed Tottenham and one point behind third-place Arsenal. They finished the season fifth. From the outside it looked like a good news story. On the inside, Ashley fumed. Players wanted pay rises. Additional prize-money from the Premier League for moving up two places was just £1.6m. It had cost Ashley £9m. He was out of pocket. The figures did not add up. There was a row with Llambias. Gradual growth and profit, this is the Ashley mantra. With dissenting voices removed, this will be the Newcastle way from now on.

Pardew must rise once more. He cannot question Ashley. He will forfeit his job if he does. But the current loss of form cannot continue. One of the biggest failings this season has been the erosion of relationships with fringe players such as Hatem Ben Arfa and Sylvain Marveaux, who because of injury, suspension and sale the manager has reluctantly turned to. His lot has perhaps never been so low with supporters.

There remain positives for Pardew. He has toed the party line. It is highly unlikely there will be a Europa League campaign to worry about. Cabaye left and the manager did not complain, and, as was the case when Kinnear was parachuted into the club last summer, there is a substantial pay-off on his lengthy contract that Ashley is not keen to hand over to change manager.

It is football as a business, as Paddy Power – who have Kinnear as 9-1 to be the next Newcastle manager – know all too well.

Sport
The Pipes and Drums of The Scottish Regiments perform during the Opening Ceremony for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park on July 23, 2014 in Glasgow, Scotland.
Commonwealth gamesThe actor encouraged the one billion viewers of the event to donate to the children's charity
Sport
Members of the Scotland deleagtion walk past during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park in Glasgow on July 23, 2014.
Voices
voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
Sport
Shinji Kagawa and Reece James celebrate after the latter scores in Manchester United's 7-0 victory over LA Galaxy
football
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
film
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
News
Very tasty: Vladimir Putin dining alone, perhaps sensibly
news
Life and Style
Listen here: Apple EarPods offer an alternative
techAre custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?
Arts and Entertainment
Top guns: Cole advised the makers of Second World War film Fury, starring Brad Pitt
filmLt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a uniform
News
The University of California study monitored the reaction of 36 dogs
sciencePets' range of emotions revealed
News
Snoop Dogg pictured at The Hollywood Reporter Nominees' Night in February, 2013
people... says Snoop Dogg
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Shakespeare in Love at the Noel Coward Theatre
theatreReview: Shakespeare in Love has moments of sheer stage poetry mixed with effervescent fun
News
Joining forces: young British men feature in an Isis video in which they urge Islamists in the West to join them in Iraq and Syria
newsWill the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?
Arts and Entertainment
The nomination of 'The Wake' by Paul Kingsnorth has caused a stir
books
News
i100
Life and Style
food + drinkZebra meat is exotic and lean - but does it taste good?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform
Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

Take a good look while you can

How climate change could wipe out this seal
Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

Farewell, my lovely

Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning
The 10 best pedicure products

Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
Commonwealth Games 2014: Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games

Commonwealth Games 2014

Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games
Jack Pitt-Brooke: Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism

Jack Pitt-Brooke

Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism
How Terry Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

How Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

Over a hundred rugby league players have contacted clinic to deal with mental challenges of game