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Kinnear: Football's Current Clown

By Ed Langford



Kinnear's latest outburst caught the attention of the British media and public. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
Kinnear's latest outburst caught the attention of the British media and public. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

The circus and its acts are dying breeds. Once seen as the pinnacle of the British entertainment trade they are now all but laid to waste from the mainstream. Driven out of the market by technology and cast into a reminiscent vision of a previous life along with seaside pier attractions and Hi-di-Hi style holidays.

The popularity associated with the circus eroded in direct contrast to Britain’s current great showpiece: football. These days the two industries couldn’t be more polarised. Yet the spirit of the circus lives on through football’s seemingly ever present need to fill the void left by a dearth of working trapeze artists and seasoned jugglers.

This takes many different forms, of course. Spurred on by the media and the clamouring public for comedic respite from the corporate big business football has become, we are never short of performances that you’d hoped to have to stumbled upon in a fairground tent 100 years ago.

We’re not spoilt for choice either; whether it’s Sol Campbell’s disappearing act, the tight-rope Lee Cattermole relentlessly treads, or simply the fact that you’d like to see David Luiz fired out of a cannon. Football is constantly mirroring the circus through its own obsession with the wonderful and the bizarre.  

And so to the clown. There’s always a clown. The events of Joe Kinnear’s self-announced appointment as Director of Football at Newcastle United last week and his subsequent interview on TalkSport set in motion another casting of one of football’s inadvertent funny-men. Costume optional.

They’ve been many before, usually portrayed through an ill-fated manager, a failing foreign signing or repeatedly by Joey Barton, and they’ll be many after.

Yet the struggles with the pronunciation of well-known first team players, the stretching of the facts with his own career, and a slur over the intelligence of the average Geordie left Kinnear only a red nose and a pair of baggy trousers short of the full package.

Serious wider implications of Kinnear’s new role at Newcastle aside, football needs a scapegoat. A figure to mock in the middle of a world envied by millions. Their achievements and stature ignored. Their reputation damaged.

Once the dust has settled and the usual jokes have exhausted Twitter feeds across the country, Kinnear will be allowed to go about his business on Tyneside. His working relationship with both Alan Pardew and Graham Carr will prove critical. Not that this is relevant at present, of course. Clowns are to be laughed at and Kinnear, rightly or wrongly, is in the custard pie firing line.

The hapless clown is a mainstay of British entertainment and now modern day football. The only point of conciliation for Kinnear is that is he isn’t the first and by this time next week there’ll be another pretender reluctantly filling his over-sized novelty shoes.