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Kinnear at ease with the troubles at Newcastle

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Contrary to appearances, Joe Kinnear did not have a mountain to climb when he agreed to take on Newcastle United; as a former head coach of Nepal, that particular cliché was out of bounds. Football has hauled the 61-year-old to some far-flung destinations and while no job has been bigger than that at St James’ Park, he insists that “nothing can surprise me.”

 

Having beaten West Bromwich Albion 2-1 on Tuesday, Newcastle remain in the foothills of recovery. The club are bottom of the table for the first time in nine years and the match at home to Aston Villa this evening – their fifth televised fixture in a row – will test their confidence and durability, but their interim manager is unlikely to wilt.

 

In more than one respect, Kinnear has arrived on Tyneside via a circuitous route. The Irishman was a left-field choice to replace Kevin Keegan and while the situation at the club remains uncertain – the prospective sale is a tortuous business, although one interested party is believed to have begun due diligence – he has brought experience to the post. If he has an advantage, it is that surreal circumstances will not derail him.

 

“You’re spoilt as a footballer, but I had to do it the other way, the hard way, as a coach,” Kinnear, who is expected to welcome Michael Owen and Nicky Butt back into his squad, said. “I’d had years in the top flight, played with Tottenham Hotspur and Brighton & Hove Albion, been to five cup finals and won them all, and then went all over the place to learn my trade. It was an amazing experience.

 

“I don’t think I would do something like that now – you have to do it when you’re young – but I’m glad I did, saw things and roamed around. It was an education. I had a completely different career from when I was a player. I had a really good start – in Dubai. Then I went to Nepal to coach the national team. The contract was good and financially it was good.”

 

Appointed in 1987, he took Nepal to the silver medal in the third South Asian Games. “I have been up Mount Everest, right to the top, in a private jet,” he said. “I went up at about 3 in the morning when the sun sets. It was sensational. We went all the way down to Tibet, turned left and then came all the way back again.

 

“Most of the players I had were Gurkhas. We trained at the foot of Everest – there was a hotel near and you could see it outside your window. It was an incredible place. We played in World Cup qualifiers and there would be 80,000 at every game. People would queue up for days and sleep in the street, just to get a ticket. You had to be there to see it.

 

“Then I got my first job back home, the best job in the world . . . Doncaster Rovers. So nothing can surprise me at all. I’m quite a confident and optimistic person. I’m OK with life.”

 

James Milner returns to St James’ Park for the first time since his £12 million move to Villa at the end of August. The winger will have no sympathy for the plight of his former teammates. “I’ve been keeping an eye on this one,” he said. “I’ve spoken to one or two of the boys. It was a tough defeat for them in the derby [against Sunderland] and with another manager coming in it’s been another change for them.

 

“I hope they pick up form and move up the table – after Monday night, obviously.”

 

Newcastle United (possible; 4-4-2): S Given – H Beye, S Taylor, F Coloccini, J Enrique – J Gutiérrez, J Barton, D Guthrie, D Duff – O Martins, F Ameobi.

 

Aston Villa (possible; 4-4-2): B Friedel – L Young, C Cuéllar, M Laursen, N Shorey – J Milner, N Reo-Coker, G Barry, A Young – G Agbonlahor, J Carew.

 

Referee: S Bennett. Television: Live on Setanta Sports 1 from 7.50pm (kick-off 8pm).

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For someone that thinks journalists are a bunch of cunts, he doesn't half like talking to them.

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Which one of you is Bird? you're a cunt! now then when I was in Nepal....Ashley told me that....Wimbledon spirit......Im off.......best job in the world.........loving it........cunt.

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