Sir Bobby takes a realistic view

Last updated : 29 December 2003 By Martyn Elliott

Many managers would have focused on Paul Gallagher’s blatant handball that decided the game, but to have done so would only have been ignoring the obvious faults in the performance.

An Alan Shearer header and Michael Chopra’s correctly disallowed goal were the only attacking threats United offered, while the back four resembled a synchronised Frank Spencer impersonation team.

The midfield were over run and, in the absence of any movement off the ball, we resorted to lumping aimless long balls up front, where Chopra was dwarfed by his markers.

All in all a desperate display that offered little hope of a top-four finish, unless Craig Bellamy, Jonathan Woodgate and Kieron Dyer return to action and peak form soon.

Still, we’ve got trips to Southampton and Manchester United coming up and the law of averages suggests we must win at one of those clubs soon.  Maybe.

Here’s what Sir Bobby had to say about the Blackburn debacle:

"It's gone. I can't complain - what's the point? I can't change it.

"He's knocked it in with his hand - what can I do about it? You get them sometimes, sometimes you don't. It's been one of those days.

"He (the linesman) was keen with the flag for the offside, but if he'd seen it, I suppose he would have given it.

"It's just unfortunate. It's a clear handball - he's knocked it in with his hands - but we still didn't score, and if you don't score, you're not going to win a match.

"Sometimes they go for you, sometimes they don't. I'm more disappointed with the defending from our point of view.

"The goal shouldn't have stood, but we should have dealt with the cross.

"The back four did not look as solid as they have done at home over the last four months and I wasn't happy about that.

"Andy Cole and Gallagher caused us problems and we did not defend as well as we should do all afternoon.

"We've missed a big chance today. It was an unexpected result and we're very disappointed. If we had won, we knew we could have moved up to fourth in the table.

"We had a long chat after the Leicester game and we wanted them revved up against Blackburn.

"We were a bit toothless, to be honest, against Leicester City and it wasn't one of our best performances. In fact, it was one of our worst performances all season.

"We knew that certain players had to play better against Blackburn and while they did not play great I cannot crib about the effort of the players.

"I only made one change and I thought it was a good opportunity to have a look at young Michael Chopra.

"He has a better chance of doing well at St James' Park than he has away from home and the kid did all right.

"He played some neat football and when he scored and had it disallowed for offside it would have been a goal had he just delayed his run."