Earle backing for Kinnear

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The Independent Online

Former Wimbledon midfielder Robbie Earle has leapt to the defence of Joe Kinnear after the Newcastle manager's foul-mouthed rant at journalists shocked Tyneside.

The former Dons manager took exception to the media reporting the club's under-performing players were given a day off when his new job began and also claimed he was being 'ridiculed for no reason'.

Kinnear, 61, has been appointed interim manager until the end of October after former England coach Terry Venables turned down an offer to join them.

Kinnear had been out of football since resigning from Nottingham Forest nearly four years ago.

But Earle believes his former boss has all the right credentials to be a hit during this temporary stay on Tyneside.

"He was a good manager to play for in respect that he gave you responsibility and put store in the fact you wouldn't let him down," said Earle.

"His swearing is a 'good morning' to you in Joe's world. But he is passionate about football, loves the game and he wants to be part of it.

"It seems to me he is trying to do that at Newcastle. Anyone who knows Joe will know that he does understand football and there is more to him than the swearing and the brash way he sometimes behaves.

"It might just be the foil to keep the pressure off the players and put the attention on to him.

"He will have had a couple of weeks to work on the training ground now and address one or two issues. He will do okay. It is a shop window for him and he is going to make the most of it.

"The players will know pretty quickly if he is happy or upset just from the body language. There is a lot going for Joe and I just hope he is given a fair opportunity to succeed or fail."

Aaway from St James' Park, Earle, a member of the famous 'Reggae Boyz' of Jamaica who reached the World Cup finals in 1998, is hoping new boss John Barnes can help them emulate that feat.

Jamaica are currently third in their qualifying group, five points adrift of leaders Honduras, who they face in Kingston tomorrow night.

They won their first qualifying match last weekend with a 1-0 success over Mexico and that has given Earle renewed inspiration.

"It was a big game for Jamaica, they needed to beat Mexico, who were then top of the group," said Earle.

"It is great for John to get a chance back in football. It has been a long time since he was at Celtic.

"I know he had been trying a number of avenues to get back in the game and, in some respects, it is a platform for John to show that he has learned from his time and matured as a man and manager."

Earle also believes England should play Spain in a friendly next year even though the Football Association will not go to the Bernabeu stadium.

The FA are keen to avoid a return to Madrid, where Shaun Wright-Phillips was racially abused - along with Ashley Cole, Rio Ferdinand, Jermain Defoe and Jermaine Jenas - in a friendly in 2004. The Spanish Federation were eventually fined £45,000.

Allied to their stance is Uefa's decision to switch Liverpool's Champions League game against Atletico Madrid to a neutral ground.

Madrid must play their next two home matches away from the Calderon Stadium following racial abuse and crowd trouble at their last Champions League game against Marseille.

Earle declared: "I think the England game should go ahead. We should not be put off by a minority of people.

"Playing the European champions would be a prestige game for England. They will be able to see where they are in terms of their development under (coach Fabio) Capello.

"It is right that this issue has to be addressed. It has got to be the right environment and the right ground.

"It is interesting to see that Uefa have gone strong and are going to move the Champions League game against Liverpool. It shows to me that people are taking this seriously, and quite rightly.

"There is no place in today's society for this kind of thing. It is a global game and there is no place for racism in it - domestically or internationally."

Earle was speaking at the Football Foundation, who announced their funding of grass-roots football has passed the £1billion mark.

Earle added: "It is a big landmark to get to £1billion invested in facilities and pitches across the country.

"People always think about football being the Premier League and the England team but you have got to have it at grass-roots level and give kids the opportunity to play in the right environment and with the right facilities."

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