Newcastle unveil Wise and close in on £3m Barnes
Wednesday 30 January 2008
On the day that Newcastle United confirmed Dennis Wise's appointment as "Executive Director (Football)", another new senior figure at St James' Park, Tony Jimenez, was busy on the telephone to Derby County attempting to buy the 19-year-old midfielder Giles Barnes. Jimenez offered £1.5m to Derby; they said no and want close to double that sum.
The transfer may yet happen as it is believed Barnes is keen on moving to Newcastle, and it would not be unfeasible for personal terms to have been discussed already. But it is Jimenez's involvement that illustrates his increasingly influential role at the club.
Jimenez, 42, was given the title yesterday of "Vice President (Player Recruitment)" and now essentially handles transfer dealings at Newcastle. He has held no equivalent official post in football before but is connected to Newcastle owner Mike Ashley via Paul Kemsley, the former Tottenham director.
There is something of Tottenham's recent operating procedure to the effort to buy Barnes. Tom Huddlestone, a similar Derby teenager, moved from Pride Park to White Hart Lane.
Barnes is far from unknown but just who today identifies such a player as being an appropriate Newcastle target remains uncertain – he may even be Wise's first recommendation. Kevin Keegan will not have seen Barnes in the flesh – Keegan said he has not watched a live game for three years prior to his return – though Jeff Vetere may be a factor.
Vetere was the third Newcastle appointment announced yesterday. His title is "Technical Co-ordinator". Vetere is an experienced (if young at 41) scout who worked under Alan Curbishley at Charlton Athletic for several years. Last year he spent three months at Real Madrid in a scouting capacity.
"Dennis will assist the board on football-related matters, including the development of the club's academy and player recruitment," read a club statement. "He will report to the chairman. Tony and Jeff will also assist in player recruitment."
The chairman, Chris Mort, keen to counter the impression that this has been foisted upon Keegan, added: "This is all part of the vision that recently helped us to secure Kevin Keegan's return to the club as manager.
"Two of the conclusions of our strategic review, since acquiring the club, were that the club would benefit from having a football person involved at board level, which it has not had historically, and that further senior resources are needed for recruiting players of the highest quality from this country and further afield.
"Dennis would like to move away from day-to-day football management to a board role and, with his considerable energy and intelligence, we believe he will do very well in this new position.
"With Kevin able to devote his efforts to developing and running the first team squad, Dennis, Tony and Jeff will each help us to secure success for Newcastle United Football Club at all levels and for the long-term. One or two further key appointments will follow in the months ahead."
Leeds have confirmed the appointment of former captain Gary McAllister to replace Wise. The former midfielder, 43, becomes the club's third manager in 16 months following the sacking of Kevin Blackwell in September 2006. Like their Newcastle counterparts, Leeds fans are well used to managerial comings and goings. Since David O'Leary's departure in June 2002, Leeds fans have seen seven different managers, including caretaker Eddie Gray, in the job.
"The job brief is promotion," McAllister said. "I'm here until June and quite simply my job is to come here and kick-start it."
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