Tough week for Newcastle ends with Shearer’s iconic sign torn down

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What a terrible week it’s been for Newcastle supporters.

On Sunday owner Mike Ashley makes the highly controversial decision of hiring Joe Kinnear as Director of Football. Kinnear, who managed the club for a brief stint in 2009 but was forced to abandon his post after being rushed to hospital with heart problems, is the figure who specialized in ‘long ball’ and many believe led to the club’s relegation.

In the midst of public outcry, Kinnear decided to give an interview to Talksport on Monday in which he embarrased himself by making ridiculous and untrue claims while botching the names of numerous figures in the club.

Among his soundbites, the 66 year old claimed responsibility for signing Tim Krul (he was recruited by Graeme Souness) and James Perch (he was bought by Chris Hughton), called Newcastle’s managing director, Derek Llambias, “Derek Llambezee,” claimed Llambias had resigned as “director of football” (that was not his position and at that point in time, had not resigned) and also referred to Shola Ameobi as “Shola Amenobee”, Yohan Cabaye as “Yohan Kebab” and Hatem Ben Arfa “Hatem Ben Afre”.

By Wednesday, Llambias handed in his resignation, which was widely understood to be a direct consequence of Ashley’s decision to appoint Kinnear. Llambias, who is credited for bringing the likes of Fabricio Coloccini and Jonás Guttiérez to the club, kept it classy in his exit, graciously thanking the club staff and supporters while not mentioning Kinnear.

Many feared that Alan Pardew, who signed an eight year contract with the club last fall, would be the next in line to show himself to the gallows but Pards refused, saying “I am staying to take the club up the league.”

The situation was enough for Newcastle legend Alan Shearer, who ripped the club for hiring Kinnear:

Right now people are laughing at the club I support and that sickens me. I promised myself years ago to never be surprised by anything which happens in football, particularly when it came to Newcastle. But this situation really is stretching it a bit.

Newcastle have a manager who has just been totally undermined. I’m sure it will be a difficult situation. It’s no way to treat a man who 12 months ago was manager of the year after guiding Newcastle to fifth place. He is in such an intolerable position.

What are the players to think when Joe Kinnear can’t even get their names right. It’s all a PR disaster. Mike Ashley just keeps on making too many decisions which alienate the Newcastle fans. They deserve better, much better.

Just after Shearer made the comments, the club sent a wrecking crew to tear down the iconic “Shearer’s” sign at the entrance to the St James’ Park bar named after the striker. The move incensed supporters and a club official was quick to note that the sign change was “purely coincidence,” and that the decision to revamp the bar and change the name to “Nine” (Shearer’s number) had been made long ago.

It’s sad to see a club be tortured by such a difficult week of news especially since the effects could be devastating. Current players – especially those who Kinnear botched in his radio interview – will feel alienated and may be more inclined to seek a transfer (Cabaye and Ben Arfa have been the subject of rumors) while potential transfers into the club – Joleon Lescott, Eder, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Loic Remy – could look elsewhere for their future home.

WATCH LIVE: Bournemouth vs. Liverpool

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Liverpool looks to pile misery on Bournemouth while increasing its Top Four stock with a visit to the Vitality Stadium on Sunday (Watch live at 11:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

The Reds can climb back into the Top Four with a win, and will do so with Sadio Mane, Danny Ings, and Dominic Solanke amongst their bench players.

Bournemouth starts Jermain Defoe, Joshua King, and Jordon Ibe amongst its attackers.

LINEUPS

Bournemouth: Begovic; Daniels, Ake, Francis, Smith, Pugh, Surman, King, L. Cook, Ibe, Defoe. Subs: Boruc, S. Cook, Gosling, Arter, Fraser, Stanislas, Afobe.

Liverpool: Mignolet, Gomez, Lovren, Klavan, Robertson, Henderson, Wijnaldum, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Coutinho, Salah, Firmino. Subs: Karius, Milner, Mane, Lallana, Ings, Solanke, Alexander-Arnold.

AT HALF: Lukaku, Lingard have Man Utd up at West Brom (video)

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Romelu Lukaku didn’t celebrate much more than a fist pump following his match-opening goal against former teammates West Bromwich Albion.

[ MORE: Watch via NBCSports.com).

No one said anything about celebrating teammates’ goals, though.

Lukaku scored to give the Red Devils a 1-0 lead, then watched as Jesse Lingard‘s deflected lash left Ben Foster high and dry as United cruised into the break up two goals.

It’s 10th PL goal of the season for Lukaku, who has 15 in all competitions. For Lingard, it’s four and seven.

Here’s Lingard’s marker:

Celtic’s record unbeaten run ends at 69 matches

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Celtic’s unbeaten domestic run has ended at 69 matches, and it ended with a thud.

Tynecastle Park was the scene for a 4-0 thumping at the hands of Hearts, a defeat started by a 16-year-old’s first Scottish Premiership goal.

[ REPORT: Luiz done at Chelsea? ]

Harry Cochrane’s his name, and his 26th minute goal gave Hearts the lead, and it was 2-0 by halftime through Kyle Lafferty, the ex-Burnley and Norwich player.

David Milinkovic scored three minutes after halftime, as the wake-up call didn’t arrive at the break, and added a penalty kick late in the match.

Celtic has a two-point lead on second-place Aberdeen with a match-in-hand. Rangers sit five-points back.

Sixty-nine games! Remarkable in any league. Here’s what Rodgers had to say:

“But I also want to congratulate my players. To have gone through 69 games and this to be their first defeat; of course it’s a sore one when you are beaten like that but they can hold their heads up. They have been absolutely amazing over those 18 months.”

WATCH LIVE: West Brom vs. Manchester United

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The Hawthorns is the scene as Manchester United attempts to pull back into sole possession of second place on the Premier League table with a visit to West Bromwich Albion (Watch live at 9:15 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

The Baggies have several regular starters on the bench, with Chris Brunt, Gareth Barry, and Gareth McAuley (Allllll the Gareths!) getting a rest.

United will hand starts to Jesse Lingard and Juan Mata, with Anthony Martial on the bench with Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

LINEUPS

West Bromwich Albion: Foster; Nyom, Hegazi, Evans, Gibbs, Krychowiak, Yacob, Livermore, Burke, McClean, Rondon. Subs: Myhill, Robson-Kanu, Brunt, Barry, Rodriguez, McAuley, Field.

Manchester United: De Gea; Valencia, Jones, Smalling, Young, Herrera, Matic, Mata, Lingard, Rashford, Lukaku. Subs: Romero, Lindelof, Rojo, Shaw, McTominay, Ibrahimovic, Martial.