JOE Kinnear has hit out at the “negativity” among Newcastle United fans – and claimed the club’s squad is strong enough for a top-10 finish.
Kinnear and owner Mike Ashley have come under fire for a lack of investment this summer, with Newcastle having spent a net £1.25m so far on loan signing Loic Remy.
And supporters voiced their frustration during Saturday’s grim goalless draw against West Ham.
A banner labelled the club’s controversial director of football the “clown of the Premier League”, and fans chanted “where’s the signings, Joe Kinnear?”.
But Kinnear – who held transfer talks with manager Alan Pardew and chief scout Graham Carr on Ashley’s yacht off St Tropez last week – is adamant the club’s squad is already “big and strong enough” to finish in the top half of the Premier League.
“I don’t understand where the negativity has come from,” said Kinnear.
“We are two games into a 38-game season, and already the doom-and-gloom merchants are looking for a scapegoat.
“Alan Pardew has signed 16 players costing £60m in the last two years, Newcastle’s wage bill is now comfortably in the top 10 in the country, and he will continue to get all the support the club can reasonably provide.
“Last week we flew to Nice and spent seven hours thrashing out every idea, and how we plan to take the club forward.
“We talked about the next stage for Newcastle and where we wanted to go.
“Before the season started, we had sat down and agreed the squad was big enough, and strong enough, to finish in the top half of the table. But we are working together – not plotting against each other.”
Kinnear last week rejected a £10m bid from Arsenal for midfielder Yohan Cabaye, but fresh bids are expected. Newcastle value him at twice that price.
It is not clear whether Cabaye will face club discipline for his refusal to play against West Ham and Manchester City.
Meanwhile, Pardew – whose tactics came under close scrutiny during last season’s Premier League relegation battle – is again under pressure at the club, with Saturday’s game not lifting spirits.
It might have been better if a great late chance was taken. Substitute Sammy Ameobi’s injury-time cross caught the inside of Jussi Jaaskelainen’s post and bounced back out to Yoan Gouffran, who somehow contrived to spoon the rebound over the bar from point-blank range.
The near-miss summed up the frustrations of the home side who failed to muster a single shot on target through the grim afternoon.
Pardew’s side has now gone 360 minutes at home without a league goal, the last strike having been that from Papiss Cisse against Fulham on April 7.
The closest Newcastle got to the scoresheet in the first half against West Ham was when Winston Reid almost put the ball into his own net.
At the other end of the pitch, Modibo Maiga should have done better with a free header. Kevin Nolan spurned an equally good chance after the break.
The game opened up after the break, and a series of balls were directed towards Cisse as a black cloud hovered over the stadium.
However, the striker didn’t get a clear-cut chance on a miserable Tyneside afternoon.
Gouffran’s glaring miss was soon followed by the final whistle, and boos as the players trudged off the sodden pitch.
Newcastle: Krul, Debuchy, Yanga-Mbiwa, Coloccini, Santon, Ben Arfa, Sissoko, Anita, Marveaux (Sammy Ameobi 66), Shola Ameobi, Cisse (Gouffran 72). Subs Not Used: Gosling, Bigirimana, Elliot, Vuckic, Dummett.
West Ham: Jaaskelainen, Demel, Collins, Reid, O’Brien, Diame (Morrison 75), Noble, Nolan, Downing (Cole 64), Maiga, Jarvis. Subs Not Used: Tomkins, Rat, Vaz Te, Adrian, Diarra.
Att: 49,622 Ref: Phil Dowd