Why now for Shearer and Newcastle?
A former title-winning manager once insisted you could actually smell a club was in crisis the moment you opened its doors - and it seems the stench of relegation has become too overpowering for Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley to bear.
So, to clear the air and avoid the notoriety of being labelled as the man who bundled Newcastle into the Championship, Ashley has taken the latest in a series of managerial gambles.
This time he has to come up with a winner - and in handing the reins to Alan Shearer until the end of the season Ashley may just have hit the jackpot.
Sound footballing logic suggests giving someone with no managerial experience eight games to save Newcastle from relegation is not so much a gamble, more an act of footballing suicide.
Newcastle, however, have rarely operated on the basis of sound footballing logic and parachuting in Shearer may just be the desperate measure that turns into a masterstroke.
Ashley took a punt on the People's Champion before when he gave Kevin Keegan back to the Toon Army. Short-lived and unsuccessful, it was a move doomed to failure once it dawned on Keegan that he was not in full control of footballing matters.
Joe Kinnear's appointment as interim manager had sceptics wondering just how long Ashley's managerial "short list" was before he finally happened on a man who had been operating on football's margins for several years.
Kinnear's heart surgery put a premature end to his tenure this season, and since Chris Hughton and Colin Calderwood took charge, there was a growing sense that this was not so much a ship that was rudderless, but one that was heading directly towards the rocks.
I was at Newcastle's home defeat by Manchester United recently, and despite a performance that was heartening, you could almost reach out and touch the mass pessimism among fatalistic fans.
This is why I believe the arrival of Shearer represents Newcastle's best opportunity of navigating a route to Premier League safety from a treacherous group of final fixtures.
Newcastle need inspiration just as much as nous in their dire situation - and while Shearer is tactically aware and very much in touch with the modern game, it is his sheer presence that will make the biggest impact.
This is about his stature rather than coaching badges or years of managerial experience. It could be construed as the latest act of Newcastle madness, but there is actually a method to it.
Supporters believe in Shearer, as West Ham United's fans did when Sir Trevor Brooking's short reign as caretaker manager almost produced a miraculous escape from relegation.
Shearer will be given their full support. Newcastle's fans will forgive him anything, even relegation. He will swiftly act as a unifying force. It is a quick-fix, but this is no long-term job with relegation ready to embrace Newcastle.
Hughton and Calderwood are genuine football men, but are they the leaders Newcastle need in their present plight? Sadly not - uninspiring performances and whispers from inside the dressing room that players felt they needed more from the top prove that fact.
Shearer will galvanise supporters, inspire players - and he will certainly not cast a match-winning talent like his good friend Michael Owen to the sidelines, as happened under his predecessors.
This is not a guarantee of success, far from it. It does, however, offer a better chance of achieving the short-term goal of staying in the Premier League than what is on offer at present.
It also answers a few questions about Shearer himself. He has never hidden his desire to go into management, eventually at Newcastle, but there were suggestions he was waiting until the situation was at its cosiest before entering the fray.
No-one can accuse him of this any more. No-one will blame him if Newcastle go down - there might be hundreds of names on that list before you get to Shearer.
But make no mistake, there is huge pressure on him to succeed simply because of who he is and he will also be feeling a massive weight of responsibility as an iconic figure on Tyneside.
You might say he has nothing to lose, but will Shearer want to be seen as the man in charge of the team on the day Newcastle drop into the Championship? He is a proud man and a proud Geordie so we know the answer to that.
The plus for Shearer is that if Newcastle do avoid relegation, and I am convinced they stand a much better chance now he is at the helm, then it will be the perfect start to his managerial career and provide the ideal platform for him to take the job on a long-term basis should he so wish.
On this basis, it may just be that Mike Ashley's last gamble could turn out to be his best.