Newcastle United 1 Blackburn Rovers 2: Little light for Kinnear at end of the tunnel

Problems for interim manager and his successor are all too apparent as Blackburn cruise to victory
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The Independent Online

According to the Blackburn Rovers manager, Paul Ince, six games is too early a point to call a season's end. Tens of thousands of Newcastle United fans might just disagree. After a fourth consecutive Premier League defeat Newcastle as a whole is thinking seriously about a first relegation from the top flight since 1989. The picture is now bigger than who the manager is.

After the shock of Friday, Newcastle's interim manager is Joe Kinnear. Some 24 hours on Kinnear was here and his name was on the teamsheet beside the word "manager"; 41 minutes in, he was already sporting an expression which verged on forlorn.

That was when Roque Santa Cruz nodded past Shay Given to put Blackburn 2-0 ahead at a ground where they had won on their previous three visits. What Kinnear experienced yesterday was nothing new. Last season it was Kevin Keegan, the one before it was Glenn Roeder, and before that Graeme Souness. The managerial churn pre-dates Mike Ashley.

Having sat in the directors' box alongside the only one of the hierarchy to bother turning up, Derek Llambias, Kinnear did try to make it to the home dugout before half-time.

But a two-game touchline ban hanging over him from his last game at Nottingham Forest, almost four years ago, prevented that intervention. Kinnear attended the post-match press conference, where he said the ban was a result of calling a referee at Rotherham "Coco the clown". Kinnear revealed that Newcastle were unaware of the ban. It is unknown if this game counts as one of the ban's two. It is farce upon farce.

Calling Geremi "Jeremiah" was not the best start but Kinnear repeated that "irrespective of the turmoil" and the shortness of the contract this was "a great opportunity at a fantastic club". He said that at half-time he spoke to the players "openly – I was bitterly disappointed about the way we conceded the two goals, we didn't compete for the two headers. We need to stop feeling sorry for ourselves, the players need to focus on playing football again. I'm honest, I'll not be pussyfooting around, I'll make every effort I can. Who knows where we can go?"

If Tottenham win today, not downwards. Second-bottom and burdened by injuries and inadequate summer signings such as Xisco and Sébastien Bassong, there is a lot of room for improvement. The presence of Michael Owen suggests quality but it is camouflage. Owen brought hope with a 50th-minute penalty after he was felled by Ryan Nelsen, but although Damien Duff had a sprightly second half and Geremi wasted a good chance, Jason Brown made only one save of note.

Blackburn were resolute. They were on the back foot for the entire second half but in Chris Samba they had a towering centre-half and in midfield Tugay, 38, moved and passed like a classy veteran. They had a good lead to defend, though Ince complained it should have been "4-0 or 5-0 at half-time". Matt Derbyshire almost put Rovers ahead on 17 minutes, Bassong clearing off the line. Claudio Cacapa was close to an own goal and with Newcastle stuttering it came as no surprise when Blackburn eased ahead just past the half hour.

Carlos Villaneuva – intricate, creative and one of the many elements Newcastle lack – chipped in a free-kick. Steven Taylor, moved to full-back after his midweek efforts, let Samba run and the latter's six-yard header was a formality. Ten minutes later Santa Cruz made it 2-0. Again poor defending allowed a sizeable target man to step free, and he nodded in expertly Brett Emerton's centre. Fabricio Coloccini, the £9.1 million defender, was at fault this time. Welcome to Tyneside, Joe Kinnear.

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