NEWCASTLE owner Mike Ashley faces a big decision over whether or not to replace his trusted lieutenant as the fall-out from Joe Kinnear's arrival shows little sign of abating.
Managing director Derek Llambias resigned yesterday after learning that the 66-year-old Irishman would assume some of his duties under a surprise shake-up of the club's football activities.
It is not yet clear if a direct replacement will be appointed, but what is obvious is that things at St James' Park will change significantly.
The club is currently in limbo with Ashley controlling from arm's length, but his day-to-day manager has gone, leaving Kinnear, finance director John Irving and club secretary Lee Charnley holding the fort.
Kinnear has wasted little time in making his presence felt with a series of free-ranging interviews which have hardly enhanced his reputation.
However, on a positive front, he met manager Alan Pardew on Tuesday for the first time since he was installed and the pair are said to have held amicable talks over the way forward.
Pardew has indicated his intention to remain as manager as he attempts to restore the club's on-field fortunes. However, the current focus is on events off the pitch at a time of year when the summer transfer strategy is paramount.
Kinnear has indicated FC Twente defender Douglas and Aston Villa striker Darren Bent are targets, although both were under consideration before his arrival.