Newcastle's director of football Joe Kinnear has hit back at the club's record goalscorer Alan Shearer, claiming: "This is a guy who doesn't have a clue about coaching."
Shearer, who scored 206 goals in 404 games for the Magpies, told The Sun last week that the appointment of Kinnear had "undermined" manager Alan Pardew and said recent events at St James' Park had turned the club into a "laughing stock".
Kinnear responded angrily to Shearer's comments in an interview in the Sunday Times, and highlighted the former England striker's failure to keep Newcastle in the Premier League in the final eight games of the 2008-09 season, when he succeeded Kinnear after he had suffered a heart attack.
"What Shearer says is diabolical," said Kinnear.
"This is a guy who hasn't got a clue about coaching."
He added: "The last game of the (2008-09) season he came up with the master idea of playing Damien Duff at left-back. Damien is one of the best left-wingers in the business, but can't tackle. And we went down with an own goal from Damien.
"Shearer keeps slagging me off. He is being disrespectful to me. I am entitled to fight back."
The interview with the Sunday Times was his first in print since returning to Newcastle, following on from two colourful and controversial interviews on television and radio where he made a number of erroneous claims, mispronounced the names of several players and claimed he had "more intelligence" than Magpies supporters.
Today, Kinnear apologised to Newcastle fans for the latter remark.
"I regret what I said about the supporters," he said.
"I can't get anybody to say that Joe has the utmost respect for the supporters and they are the most important people at the club.
"I always go to their forums and loved having the craic with them around the city when I was manager there.
"There are 10 per cent I'm never going to win over, that is the point I was trying to make, but I regret what I said and if I offended any Newcastle fans I apologise."
Kinnear's appointment immediately created speculation around the future of Pardew and also of influential chief scout Graham Carr, who both now report into him. But the Irishman insists he will not be interfering in first-team matters and believes his job may be under bigger threat than the former Charlton manager's.
"I will have the job of over-looking the reserves and the youth team and see where we are progressing, as well as being chief advisor to (chairman) Mike Ashley," he said.
"If things are going wrong at the club I am accountable and he will be coming through me and not anybody else.
"Everybody thinks Pardew is under pressure. He's not. I am. I could get sacked.
"The manager: the running of the teams when it comes to the players needed, the selection of players on match days, the tactics and the public face when addressing the supporters via the media will be Alan Pardew."
He added: "He was looking for clarification over about my role, not his own, and I explained my role to him in full.
"I said, 'You are on an eight-year contract and my role is to support you and give you the best help possible. I have been informed that you found it difficult last season to speak to Mike or get messages to Mike about various things'.
"I am not after his job. Alan knew there was a director of football coming in. He felt a little isolated and Mike sussed that."
Since Kinnear was appointed, managing director Derek Llambias has also resigned and there has been a minor furore over the renaming of the Shearer's Bar at St James' Park.