Kinnear gives Ashley reminder of need to invest

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The Independent Football

Newcastle owner Mike Ashley has only one possible route back into the affections of the club's fans after being left in little doubt as to the challenge ahead of him.

The billionaire chose yesterday to confirm what had been suspected on Tyneside for some time when he announced he had taken the club off the market three months after deciding to sell up.

A few hours later, he was handed the most stark of reminders as to what is now required from him as Joe Kinnear's patched-up side was thrashed 5-1 by Liverpool, who extended their lead at the top of the Barclays Premier League table to three points.

Kinnear said: "January will be hectic on and off the field. We need to address that situation immediately, and that's the message I am getting across to Mike Ashley and the board of directors.

"If we are looking for a team for the future and want to go forward and make a statement against teams like Liverpool, we must strengthen. Against Liverpool you could see how big the gap is.

"The players I am looking at bringing in are players who can come straight into the team.

"But I will have to make some changes. I was looking at certain areas, assuming that everybody was fit and well.

"But due to the length of time people are out injured, it could change."

It will not have been lost on Ashley that had it not been for keeper Shay Given, one of three Magpies linked with January moves to Arsenal, the score could easily have reached double figures.

Kinnear, who revealed he does not yet know what he will have to spend, insists he needs at least four January signings to stave off the spectre of relegation - the Magpies are only two points clear of the drop zone - and has identified the men he wants executive director (football) Dennis Wise to go out and get.

The success of that mission could have a major say in where the club plays its football next season, and Ashley will be well aware that a club he could not sell at the right price in the Premier League would decrease sharply in value if it slipped into the Coca-Cola Championship.

Kinnear will lay his cards on the table when they discuss the way forward, and the evidence of 90 painful minutes at St James' Park will back his case.

With Sebastien Bassong suspended and Habib Beye, Joey Barton, Obafemi Martins and Mark Viduka injured, there was a makeshift look about Newcastle, and the Reds exploited it to the full.

Steven Gerrard broke Given's stubborn resistance after 31 minutes and when Sami Hyypia added a second five minutes later, the points were effectively safe.

Defender David Edgar reduced the deficit in first-half injury time with his second Newcastle goal almost two years to the day since his first.

But Ryan Babel needed only five minutes of the second half to capitalise on further poor defending, and Gerrard and substitute Xavi Alonso from the penalty spot completed the rout without Robbie Keane having to move from the bench.

Edgar said: "Liverpool came out and played really well. They showed why they are top of the league.

"We had a decent enough start, but they looked decent from set-pieces and we couldn't quite cope in the first half.

"We got things together at half-time, but then they came out and scored an early one from a set-piece, so that killed us off.

"They played well and we weren't at our best."

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