Retiring goalkeeper Steve Harper calls for the dust to settle at Newcastle following arrival of Joe Kinnear

Managing director Derek Llambias has left and there is uncertainty over the future of manager Alan Pardew

Steve Harper is hoping the furore surrounding Joe Kinnear's appointment as Newcastle's director of football will have settled down long before the start of the new season.

The 38-year-old goalkeeper, who will officially end his 20-year stay at the club when his contract expires at the end of this month, worked under Kinnear during his brief spell as manager at St James' Park and is keeping his fingers crossed that Mike Ashley's bold decision to employ him once again pays off.

Harper told the Northern Echo: "Joe is very likeable, speaking as a player. He is a larger-than-life character, a good motivator.

"He came in at a very difficult time, a very turbulent time and sadly, his time was taken away from him because of illness.

"One plus side is that he does know the club, he knows a few of the players, he is not coming in as a total novice to the place. He does have that head-start, unlike anybody else who might have been in the role.

"I am glad it has happened now, that it has happened in the June rather than mid-season. Everything should have settled down by the start of the season."

Kinnear's return to St James' Park has thrown the club into turmoil once again, prompting managing director Derek Llambias' resignation and speculation that others could follow.

However, manager Alan Pardew has insisted he is staying and after a first meeting between the two men on Tuesday, the 51-year-old will hope for progress on a summer recruitment drive, one of the responsibilities taken on by the Irishman.

But with the club's fans still in revolt over the appointment, the club has been plunged into chaos once again.

That is something to which Harper has become used over the years, but he admits he is now seeing it from a slightly different perspective.

He said: "As for being surprised - I have been there for such a long time and nothing surprises me anymore. Now I am on the other side of the fence, like a fan, and you realise what all the fuss is all about.

"As a fan, I want it to work well. Having a director of football seems to work well on the continent. We even had Gordon Milne working with Sir Bobby [Robson] here at Newcastle. He was in that role when I was here and it worked fine."

Derby rivals Sunderland, of course, have undergone a restructuring process of their own in recent months in the wake of Paolo Di Canio's arrival, with his fellow Italians Roberto De Fanti and Valentino Angeloni having been installed as director of football and chief scout respectively.

The north-east rivals have gone about the business of installing their new management teams in markedly different fashion, but former Black Cats striker and chairman Niall Quinn admits only time will tell how effective either will be.

Quinn told the Northern Echo: "I know Joe Kinnear is a well-respected guy within the ranks of football. I always feel that if you have a manager who is constantly under pressure from somebody he feels isn't even the chairman of the club, it is a second edition of issues and problems.

"But if you have a director of football who really supports the manager, wants to bring in the players, creates things, then it is a good thing.

"We are still to find out whether Joe will be a firefighter to prevent Alan Pardew from delivering the growth strategy he will have, or whether he will help that growth strategy. Until we know, it is a hard one to call.

"I take the point that Sunderland did it under the radar and it looks like Paolo will have huge support, but I presume Ellis Short feels comfortable with that.

"But if Newcastle win their first three games and Sunderland lose their first three, then we are all wrong if we say stuff like that.

"I just can't wait for the football to start again. It will all work out."


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