NEWCASTLE United recorded their first win in nine matches to move out of the Premier League relegation zone last night but Joe Kinnear revealed the man whose penalty set them on their way should not even have taken it.
Having helped to lift the gloom on Tyneside with his tenth-minute penalty, Kinnear now hopes controversial midfielder Joey Barton can belatedly begin repaying his £5.7m transfer fee.
In his first start since being released from prison in August, it was perhaps inevitable Barton would open the scoring. Obafemi Martins added a second and although the Magpies had to cling on after Ishmael Miller’s second-half goal, they provided Kinnear with his first victory as interim manager.
The penalty was the first Newcastle have been awarded this season and, with regular taker Michael Owen injured, Kinnear expected Martins to take it.
“He’d have been in serious trouble if he hadn’t scored because I think Obi Martins was the penalty-taker,” Kinnear quipped. “Joey grabbed it, I think he wanted to prove a point. He played very well and I’m really pleased for him. Hopefully people can let him play football now and get on with it.
“We see him practising penalties – him, Nicky Butt, Shola (Ameobi), Obi. Joey’s one of the best finishers in the club, him and Michael Owen are right up there. He’s a good striker of the ball, he’s got good feet and a lot of bottle as well.
“It’s an opportunity if not to get back in the good books then to have a relationship with the fans. He’s been bought for over £5m and now he’s got to play up to that price. He’s going to be given every chance.
“This will never make him any better in some people’s eyes but in football terms I think he’s done himself the power of good.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if he does tell Michael Owen he wants to be the regular penalty-taker. He’s a chirpy lad and a very confident person.” On Monday Kinnear labelled the game a “must-win” and although tonight’s results could easily put the Magpies back into the bottom three, he expects victory to have a psychological impact.
“We would have been back to doom and gloom again (if Newcastle had failed to win),” he reasoned. “We definitely needed that.
“We were just desperate to get our first win. We could’ve sneaked one at Everton, we got robbed against Man City with a player (Habib Beye) sent off and we played (almost) the whole game with 10 men. It was never a penalty. It was a game we nearly won. So we’ve been threatening to do it since I came.
“The only disappointing one was Sunderland but it was in our favour to play as quickly as possible. It gives everybody a
big lift, none more so than myself. I don’t know how long I’ll be here but at least I’ll be able to say I won a match. I’d like to win more.
“I thought we started exceptionally well, we could have had two or three before we actually scored.
“We opened them up on numerous occasions and had our final ball been better it could have been done and dusted, we could have come in four or five (goals ahead). But the longer the game went on, the more nervous we got.
“We dropped off the pace. We were caught between the devil and the deep blue sea. Do you go for your third or hang on to what you’ve got? We chose the latter, to defend what we had, and thankfully it came off for us. We were determined to hang on to the three points.”
Meanwhile, Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp says he no longer has thoughts of being England manager – but he wants his players to give Fabio Capello a selection headache.
Redknapp, who rejected the chance to become Newcastle boss last season, was among the candidates for the national job before Capello took the reigns.
Now Redknapp is totally focused on matters at White Hart Lane and hoping that an upturn in his club’s fortunes – and his English players’ form – can give Capello food for thought.