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Shearer gets taste of reality

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Phil McNulty | 18:44 UK time, Saturday, 4 April 2009

Alan Shearer wasted no time in reaching for the last refuge of the beaten manager as he announced he was going to "take the positives" from a painful start to his Newcastle United reign.

The positives, sadly for Shearer, were in very short supply - indeed they just about stretched as far as his opening shot that Newcastle had worked very hard before being overpowered by Chelsea.

It was a strange day down on the Tyne and there have been plenty of those. The mood-swings between the build up to Shearer's first game and the aftermath of the 2-0 defeat was almost like entering one world and leaving another.

Shearer was everywhere before the game, the old replica shirt back in the shop windows and supporters almost floating on air through the city streets to the ground.

Sadly, the reality was more brutal and the drinkers in Shearer's Bar and The Strawberry in the shadow of St James' Park were having to swallow a few bitter pills along with their Brown Ale after the game.

Chelsea failed to read the script for the hero's return - but Shearer's sheer force of personality remains Newcastle's best hope of avoiding the drop into the Championship.

Shearer shouts but to no avail as Newcastle are beaten 2-0He and his right-hand man Iain Dowie, who occasionally placed an arm around Shearer in paternal fashion in the first half to offer advice on tactical adjustments, had only two days to work with the team before facing Chelsea.

Shearer can now make concerted efforts to get his ideas and inspiration across to a Newcastle United team that desperately lacks those two crucial commodities.

It was a wise decision by owner Mike Ashley to call on Shearer - indeed the owner was happy enough about his coup to sign autographs for fans prior to kick-off, all this after being accused of being part of the "Cockney Mafia" at Newcastle after Kevin Keegan's departure.

If the mood before the start was one of celebration at the return of the new People's Champions, with Paul Gascoigne in attendance and receiving a heart-warming reception from supporters who encountered him, Shearer's demeanour did everything to demonstrate the grim reality of Newcastle's situation.

He was businesslike, making a late entry without fanfare, announcements or triumphalism and the occasional request for a wave from the masses went unanswered. Shearer was too locked in concentration for gestures.

And even when Chelsea's fans, buoyed by watching their team stroll to victory in the closing minutes, taunted Shearer with chants of "You're Getting Sacked In The Morning", it simply produced a defiant response from their Newcastle counterparts, who are relying on this Geordie icon and proud son of the city to save their season.

Every act from Shearer screamed out that he knows the seriousness of the problem he has walked into. He was not interested in grandstanding or playing to the crowd. To use a sporting phrase, he had his "game face" on before, during and after.

Shearer did show the odd trademark managerial tic even in his first 90 minutes - arms spread wide in apparent disbelief at a dubious decision, plenty of dialogue with the fourth official - but for the most part he cut an impassive figure, although his new players gave him little to get animated about.

He is understandably desperate to play down any feeling that this is a one-man crusade, saying: "I will try and do everything to deflect the thing away from myself. I was deternined to try and keep it as low-key as possible."

Shearer has one quality that will serve Newcastle well in these coming weeks. At close quarters he exudes an almost unshakeable self-belief and confidence. And he will need it on this evidence.

Chelsea coach Guus Hiddink also possesses it. He looked like a benevolent uncle alongside the young manager in the dug-out next to him - perhaps the only time Shearer did look like the managerial rookie he is.

Hiddink knew this was dangerous territory for Chelsea but he was happy with what he saw: "We came here in special circumstances. With Alan Shearer coming there have been a lot of articles and talking in recent days and we had to confront that.

"It gave that extra energy to the team and extra energy to the crowd but we came through it well. It was a good result and only makes us regret more our lost points at Spurs."

If there was one worry for Newcastle, it was the actual lack of obvious reaction from the players to Shearer's arrival. The odd crunching tackle flew in, with Nicky Butt in especially combative mood, but otherwise it was a thoroughly subdued performance when the smart money would have been on Newcastle almost having to be held back.

Shearer was, well, taking the positives as he delivered reassurances, saying: "We have had a chat. We know what has to be done - but knowing and doing are two different things."

Shearer is also sparing his players the big stick, although his steely demeanour hinted that he will not hesitate to produce it should the lack of inspiration and invention linger into next week's less-than-enticing visit to Stoke City.

"I'm trying to pick as many positives as I can," said Shearer. "They don't want to hear me harping on about negatives. They want to hear good things about themselves and the football club."

And his first team selection, and reaction to it, contained enough messages to suggest he has already made a swift analysis of what is required.

Shearer knows he has two goalscorers in Michael Owen and Obafemi Martins and wants to find ways to serve them. Chelsea did not afford them many opportunities (although Owen appeared to have a perfectly good goal wrongly ignored by a linesman) but other teams might in the weeks ahead.

Owen was also forced to do too much work near the halfway line, but again the quality of opposition made that a neccessity on this occasion.

Newcastle have a selection of wide men in Damien Duff, Peter Lovenkrands and Jonas Gutierrez - all united in inconsistency. Shearer admitted his side was short on quality against Chelsea and this is one area for improvement.

It is in defence where Shearer's hard words and Dowie's coaching expertise must be brought to bear. Newcastle were horribly clumsy and unconvincing at times, with Fabricio Coloccini a vulnerable figure.

Newcastle will call heavily on Owen's goals and Butt's experience in the crucial weeks ahead - but most of all they will seek inspiration from Shearer.

The Toon Army were subdued long before the final whistle, which was greeted with an eerie silence before a sympathetic burst of applause, almost in a reflex action.

And the scene outside St James' Park an hour after the game was in sharp contrast to the hours before kick-off, when the simple arrival of Newcastle's team coach was the catalyst for wild scenes of celebration.

Inside, Shearer was already making a Sunday morning appointment with his players - determined to write a happy ending to a story that started with a miserable first chapter.


  • Comment number 1.

    Where are all the people who continually accuse you of only blogging about the Big Four teams......?

  • Comment number 2.

    Yawn. There's nothing new here. As a Toon fan, we never seriously expected to get anything from the Chelseas game - a point would have been a bonus. It's infuriating that yet again, the opening goal was handed to the opposition on a plate, but that's been the story of the season.

    Chelsea was a game for Alan to see what he's got...the game against Stoke next week is far more important.

  • Comment number 3.

    Bringing Shearer in always looked more like PR than likely to change the reality which is this group of players are not going to get out of jail. You wonder how seriously they will take a man on a million quid for 8 games then back to the comfy couch.

    Presumably Dowie is the Championship manager in waiting for the club and there will be a lot of departures in the summer Shearer foremost among them.

    Reality indeed.

  • Comment number 4.

    There's nothing new because there is nothing new to say. I thought Newcastle was dismal yesterday. I don't get how professional players seem unable to complete simple ten yard passes. Thought the left-back looked good defensively mind you.

  • Comment number 5.

    what surprises me about this is the lack of people pointing out that Shearer has no experience what-so-ever as a manager. when times are tough, which they are at the toon, you need someone who knows how to grab the club by the scruff of the neck and pull them through. Shearer has never done this before and to expect him to get it right with 8 games left is laughable.

    I think Ashley has done this on purpose because he knows newcastle will more than likely go down. By bringing in shearer he has cleverly managed to soften the relegation blow and takes the hatred that would be aimed at him down a peg or two.

    All that said, i do wish shearer the best of luck, and dont want newcastle to go down - they are very good for wayne rooney's confidence lol.

  • Comment number 6.

    It's true I can't see them taking shearer that seriously, quite a lot of the players look like they are already trying to get their careers back on track and that's by leaving the Toon. Hopefully for Newcastle they'll try and play their way into a bigger teams plans and that could be the saving grace of them.

  • Comment number 7.

    Maybe its time to notice that Jonas Gutierrez has been the best player for Newcastle for quite a period of time now (imo)

  • Comment number 8.

    Perhaps Shearer should come out of retirement to help Newcastle. Seriously though, I for one doubt that Newcastle will retain their Premier League status next season. Fabrico Coloccini summed up Newcastle's season with that error.

  • Comment number 9.

    I think that I may be the only person who fails to see the 'big personality' Shearer will bring to the dressing room. After seeing him countless times on MOTD, I'm struggling to see it to be honest. Also, as someone highlighted above, an unexperienced manager is not the man I would like in charge of my club if it were battling relegation. I'd take the likes of Sam Allardyce any day. Incidentally, it seems he wasn't doing too bad of a job there was he? Correct me if I'm wrong but were Newcastle not about 12th or so when he was sacked? Oh how they'd love to be up there now!

  • Comment number 10.

    every one says he does not have previous expereince! every managers started from the scratch! all those experienced managers were rookie once and they gained expereince day after day! so i think shearer would become a good manager in future and he will serve New castle for a long time to come !atleast he showed some guts to take the challenge and trying to do some thing to avoid the drop .
    Roy Keane Took a club like sunderland from the bottom of the championship table to the premier leage with no previous expereince. he was forced to leave by the players who were not interested to play for the manager b'cos he went too tough on them !! they need flashy cars and jewelleries with out working hard for thier salaries.
    in newcastles case its not easy to change the players looser mentality with in 2 days !! they are comfortable with loosing and they are not ashamed of loosing they just wanted to pick up thier heavy salaries.
    in my opinion their failure started the day they sacked Big sam and replaced him with Keegan ! am sure they wouldn't be fighting for survival if he is still in charge at newcastle, now he is doing magic for blackburn , newcastle supporters played a big part for his departure and am sure Big sam have some thing to prove to newcastle management and supporters ! i really wanted him to succeed at Blackburn.

  • Comment number 11.

    Shearer is still showing why he is a Master at looking after Alan Shearer.
    He just cannot lose here...... IF his lousy team manage to get out of jail and survive the drop he will be the ultimate Geordie hero ( only if the other strugglers do worse ..! ), but when they are relegated ( my bet ) he can say, well I only had 8 games, not enough time blah , blah ; then he returns to being a pundit.
    I reckon Newcastle will be playing Leeds by 2010 and I don't mean in the Premier League !
    The Newcastle owner has only himself to blame, sacking Sam Allerdice was an idiot's move. Sam doesn't coach my kind of football, but they would be safe as houses by now.

  • Comment number 12.

    Newcastle were poor yesterday, but it will be wiser to evaluate their chances of PL survival by seeing how they perform, and what result they get against Stoke.

    Stoke are very good at home, so if Newcastle can get a win there it might just turn their season around.

  • Comment number 13.

    In answer to those who question Alan Shearer's managerial credentials, I do not believe it makes any difference in this instance. And I am not hugely convinced by the need for coaching badges anyway.

    Newcastle, in their current predicament, need Shearer's inspiration as much if not more than any tactical nous. I believe they have done the right thing in bringing him in, coaching qualifications or not.

    And no-one can tell me Shearer does not have a tactical appreciation of the game at the highest level.

  • Comment number 14.

    "Shearer gets taste of reality"

    What a predictable article. Everyone knew Newcastle weren't going to win despite Shearer's return, so it's not like our world's come crashing down after the result.

  • Comment number 15.

    As has been mentioned, Shearer and his effect on the players cannot be judged on this game. Even firing on all cylinders Newcastle would struggle to beat Chelski under Hiddink, never mind when they've been getting soundly drubbed most of the season.
    However, the Stoke game is a must-win and Shearer needs to light a fire under the players pretty quickly, I just wonder if any of them have the heart for the fight. They looked listless and jaded for the most part yesterday and many are obviously looking for a way out.

  • Comment number 16.

    As a toon fan gotta yeah it was totally unexpected to lose to Chelsea, I thought we'd at least 5-0 'cos we're now the greatest team of all of the universe because the manager has changed (or rather been placed in until the other one gets healthy again). I thought Shearer would sign himself as a player and score at least a hatrick! Oh hang on, no thats all rubbish, 99.9% of toon fans were looking to the 90mins after 5:30pm next Saturday, a point yesterday would have been amazing.

    "newcastle supporters played a big part for his departure and am sure Big sam have some thing to prove to newcastle" - Yeah 'cos its not like in his last game against Stoke(away) (when they were a Championship side) after 1-1 draw all the away fans were chanting his name in good spirits as he left the field , I didn't like his style of footie and also I didn't support the idea of employing him for a number of reasons however I still supported him and the club when he was there (lets face it we've had worse in recent memory).

    "soften the relegation blow" - No such thing, ever, whoever takes us down, whatever happens afterwards there is no softening of the blow of relegation

  • Comment number 17.

    i agree with #5, clubs who reach for ex-fans favourites with no management experience have no common sense in then expecting a miracle. Trying to get the confidence and respect from pros only a few years younger than yourself who can probably sense your inexperience must be the toughest job in the world when millions of pounds balance on it. Chelsea had Vialli and Gullit as player managers but now they've stepped up a notch they know they had to go to Hiddink, Ancelotti or Eriksson, a club manager with the track record and know-how. Makes me think Ashley wanted to go for Dowie, knew the Geordie masses wouldn't like that so picked on Shearer to be a poster boy. If they get relegated, wow, that'll be interesting.

  • Comment number 18.

    Personally, I can't help feeling that Coloccini has been one of the worst signings made this season - I honestly cannot remember him having a good game.

    Shearer may well keep the Toon up, we'll just have to see what points, if any, they get against Stoke. If they come out of the tunnel roaring, start in top gear (without stalling in defence) and play some decent football, then they may well be OK. If they go out looking, as they did yesterday, like they simply don't want to be there, then it's not going to be a happy homecoming for Alan, and the Geordie masses will (though I'm assured by my mates that they already have done) have to consign themselves to the fact that Newcastle are going down.

    Because Shearer is inexperienced, then, whatever you might say about having been a great player and at the top level, he is unlikely to pull something magical out of the hat come the last few matches of the season - a Fulham-esque end to the season was probably only achievable due to Roy Hodgson's managerial aptitude.

    The Toon are most certainly not big enough to go down, and Shearer is most certainly not a good enough manager to single-handedly save them; the players must start playing like a team in a relegation battle: determined, gritty, bodies on the line, and all those other clichés.

  • Comment number 19.

    "Shearer gets taste of reality"

    What a predictable article. Everyone knew Newcastle weren't going to win despite Shearer's return, so it's not like our world's come crashing down after the result.


    He might have guessed that Newcastle were unlikely to get anything from the game but probably had hope that his arrival would give the team enough confidence to avoid basic defensive errors. Until you're there managing the team you really don't know what to expect, simple as that. If you're so clever, why don't you tell Mr. McNulty what the title should have been? Prat.

  • Comment number 20.

    In fairness to Sam Allardyce, he has never bad-mouthed Newcastle, even after his disgraceful treatment by Ashley. Maybe that was part of his settlement, I don't know. But I bet Sam has a big smile on his face if Blackburn survive at the expense of you know who. Ironic if that happened.

  • Comment number 21.

    What do Newcastle fans feel about the partnership of Owens and Martins in attack. Quite a few seasoned Newcastle observers I spoke to at St James' Park do not believe they are effective together.

    Any mileage in that argument? They will need both for the next seven games I reckon.

  • Comment number 22.

    As I heard a Newcastle fan say the other day, "If Shearer keeps us up, he'll be god, if we go down, it's not his fault", that about sums up the newcastle fans delusion yesterday. If he is responsible if he keeps you up he is therefore also responsable if you go down, you can't have it both ways!
    From a neutral point of view there is only one thing that will keep Newcastle up this season, and it's nothing to do with Shearer, and that is if Owens latest comeback produces goals, as he was already fit for this game even if Noddy was in charge that cannot be attributed to Shearer, and without Owen scoring I can't see Newcastle staying up, therefore staying up or down is more down to Owens form than Shearers "personality"!

  • Comment number 23.

    It's a big, big task now for Shearer. Their only hope is that teams like Sunderland and Hull who are in free fall are worse than them in the last few games.

  • Comment number 24.

    The outstanding issue with the pairing of Obafemi Martins and Michael Owen up front is the contrast in playing styles between the two. Martins is a pacy forward, one that prefers to take players on before unleashing some sort of thunderstrike. Owen is a more of a striker that likes to pounce on any chance; he is unlikely to take a shot from 25-30 yards away from goal.

    Owen is also the sort of striker who you'll want to get on the end of a cross, whilst Martins thrives on the defence-splitting through-balls and the chances that open up before him.

    Pairing both players at a younger age would have been deadly for Newcastle, and any defence would have feared them. Yet, compare Owen's form nowadays to the sort of chances he made five to ten years ago - he is a different player. Take his goal against Argentina in 1998, a wonderful run and a glorious finish. He simply lacks the pace and agility to terrorise defenders in this way.

    Martins is quickly going down David Beckham's path - he will always have the ability to strike shots at phenomenal power, but will he have the speed to get in the correct positions to take those shots? Beckham lacks the velocity on the wing now to outrun defenders, but he can still deliver that perfect cross.

    If either remain on Tyneside any longer, then the manager - whoever that may be - may have to begin looking for a striker that isn't losing his touch.

  • Comment number 25.


    In response to your question regarding the partnership of Martins and Owen, well it's a difficult one to answer. Both are excellent players - Martins will never be an out and out goalscorer but his direct style unsettles the best of defenders (when he's up for it - this being the big problem), and Owen will score goals if he's given the service (something he's not had for a very long time). I believe that Owen is now at the stage of his career (due to injuries etc) that he is far more efective in the role that Keegan (you know, the tactically inept Keegan) employed him in last season. An absolute masterstroke to have him in a Beardsley type role behind the Big man and Martins CF partnership. I'd seriously contemplate playing Owen there again with the Bensham Van Basten (aka Andy Carroll) alongside Martins. I genuinely think that Carroll has the ability to become an excellent player, plus he's a Gateshead lad who cares about the club. So to answer! They can definitely play effectively in the same team (proven last season), they just don't complement each other as a direct strike partnership.
    All the best

  • Comment number 26.

    I know it's been said time and time again, but here's a guy with no managerial experience who has been put in charge to keep a club in the Premiership with a handful of games to go.

    I can't understand this 'messiah' welcome the Newcastle fans have given him.

    Yes, he was a great player, but as a manager, he could be completely out of his depth in the Premiership.

    The fans seem to let romance get in the way of reality.

  • Comment number 27.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 28.

    I think Shearer had a pretty firm grasp of reality before this game was played. He stated very publicly in his interview with Garth on FF that he was in this for eight games only, regardless of whether Newcastle survive or not. He is reportedly being paid quite handsomely for his brief tenure and has his pundits job with the BBC to return to. He rightly stated he has no reputation as a *manager* therefore he has none to lose.
    When Garth asked would he have done this for any other club? The question should have been would any other club have asked you? Em, NO.

  • Comment number 29.

    21. At 12:29pm on 05 Apr 2009, Phil McNulty - BBC Sport wrote:
    What do Newcastle fans feel about the partnership of Owens and Martins in attack. Quite a few seasoned Newcastle observers I spoke to at St James' Park do not believe they are effective together.

    Any mileage in that argument? They will need both for the next seven games I reckon.


    In an ideal situation, I don't think you'd play these two together. They're both out and strikers.

    But I think that they can play together. Martins does have the ability to drop deeper and link play.

    Both have got goals in them so I guess this is why Shearer plays both of them, it's just a case of whether Shearer can make it work.

  • Comment number 30.

    Moderation seems better today - keep it up.

  • Comment number 31.

    2 - 0 to Chelsea?

    Was that a bad result?

    Let's wait and see what happens in "easier" games.

  • Comment number 32.

    Shearer's appointment looks more like a pr stunt than careful consideration. Reality is more that the castle is crumbling already for a long, long time, maybe best thing is to relegated to build on a solid foundation, and get some much needed silverware what has them eluded for so long,instead of looking for past iconic persons to turn things around. Reality is that new castle is a below average club with average players, except Owen when he is in top form.

  • Comment number 33.

    Usual journo practice of stating the blindingly obvious and looking for every excuse to criticize.
    Shearer made it very clear that Newcastle are in a dog fight and that he shouldn't be painted as a messiah. The bottom line is that he is going to try his hardest to keep Newcastle up.
    It's very easy to throw stones from your comfy reporter's chair. I think you should try focusing on the leadership being shown by Shearer in troubled times for a once great club. Shearer's vision is that it can be great again.

  • Comment number 34.

    I have to say that since the appointment of the Lion of Gosforth the usual prejudice shown towards NUFC supporters has once again reared its head. It enfuriates me that people make comments on sites such as this based on what other people totally unconnected with the club deduce from reading sensationalist hack journalism and by watching the sheer brain rotting channel that is Skysports News. Listen here, the vast, and I mean vast i.e. over a couple of 100,000 NUFC fans (not just the 50,000 in the stadium) do not believe that we have a God given right to silverware, do not believe that KK and AS are messianic type figures and do not believe that we should win all games with an outrageous panache. NO - the sensible among us, again the vast majority, and not the blanket carrying chavs asked by Sky Sports News and the other notorious stirring journalists, want to see a team full of players that give their heart and soul on the pitch, that act as role models and that genuinely understand how lucky they are to be earning a ridiculous amount of money for playing their hobby (wages contributed to by a great money of low-paid working class people). We want a manger who deosn't mouth off utter rubish and who sets a professional example to his employees, a manager who cares about what he's doing and the people he's doing it for - this is what we'll get with AS. I can accept relegation (as hideous as it'll be, just like it was after the 2-1 home defeat by West Ham in 1989 that last condemned us) as long as I know that everyone associated with the club has given every ounce of what they've got to try and keep the club up. I think if some of you people who like to trot out your anti-NUFC, indeed anti-Geordie stereotypes, actually visited the area and spent a few weeks here during the season your opinions would change. Any of you that convinced that what you say is true enough to go into a pub in the city centre and tell us what you think?

  • Comment number 35.

    I think Shearers appointment is a big mistake for Newcastle. Im a neutral, so when I see Newcastle fans saying he's the savior of the club I don't get it. Two words Kevin Keegan. He was 'the saviour' too but Newcastle seem to hate him now. If Shearer gets Newcastle relegated (which I think he will) he might lose his reputation as a Newcastle hero. He has come into the club at the wrong time. As there are some horrible fixtures like Liverpool, Portsmouth and so on. He's already lost to Chelsea which was an important game. Middlesbrough will be the only game he'll win this year as he will have a lot of passion for the derby and Middlesbrough just can't defend or score. It's a shame Newcastle and Middlesbrough will go down this year as they are premier league standard clubs who have had a bad run of form but at least the championship will be more exiting.

  • Comment number 36.

    Remember when Ashley got all upset because Keegan said it was impossible for Newcastle to break into the top four? Goes to show how out of touch Ashley is with modern football.

    Shearer is proven as an inspirational leader in football. He might not be the most eloquent of guys but neither is Steven Gerrard and look at the effect he has on a team as a leadership figure. Shearer doesn't need to be brilliant tactically; he has staff to help him out there. He is there as an impact personality to inspire a flagging team.

    As for Owen and Martins as a strike team...I've seen the best of Martins when Owen is off the pitch, but then again they haven't had much time to work up a partnership with Owen being injured most of the time.

  • Comment number 37.

    The Owen v Martins debate is beside the point. If we had anyone with the ability to pass a ball through the middle of the park, we'd have the perfect strikeforce.
    Never mind the defence or the forwards. Our problem lies in midfield, where there is simply no ounce of creativity left since Solano got old, and Dyer got sold.
    No one can pass the ball forward, with the exception perhaps of Joey Barton, but he's going the same way as Alan Smith, Mark Viduka, Michael Owen and Damian Duff. Another waster who spends little time on the pitch, bleeding the club dry of funds.
    Coloccini, a man who has played almost every minute of every game this season, is not the villain here, and is too easy of a scapegoat. I can't believe some of the stick he gets, when there are so many big names consistently unable to pull on the shirt.
    The fact is, if you can't create goals, you're eventually going to concede them. And that is where we are at, and why we are at the bottom.
    Lazy television pundits can harp on all they want about the infamous Newcastle defence, but no one has picked up on the shoddy excuse of a midfield.
    The commentator for the Chelsea match even said that Duff was a great substitution to be able to make. Excuse me? When the hell has Duff made a difference? Alex Mathie he is not!

  • Comment number 38.

    I think newcastle will just survive they have the talent(although not of late)and players to do it,being a liverpool fan it would be nice to see them survive its always nice to go to the n/e for 3 points(just kidding)seriously though they and the boro esp look doomed,i for one HOPE middlesborough get relegated they have not been a prem team for YEARS(dont start about the 2nil defeat a few weeks back we had enough chances to win it 2-5).The prob this time around for newcastle is given not in goal, the amount of times this guy has saved newc in the past is unquestionable,they will def miss him.
    Having said all that i still believe they will survive there is definatly enough games still there to pick up the points needed if shearer can get it together quickly.The chelsea game was a non starter for him, they (chelsea)had way to much talent and purpose to let newcastle get anything from the match,even if owens deflected effort was in(which it was by about 2 feet)castle prob still would have lost,chelsea would have just gone up through the gears to hold them prediction for the drop,WEST BROM,THE BORO,and sadly cos im irish and have alot of respect for niall quinn,SUNDERLAND.

  • Comment number 39.

    I have not a lot of sympathy for Newcastle, a club I certainly had a soft spot for. The fans getting Allardyce sacked was where I stopped caring about this club. If they go down now they only have themselves to blame. The constant managerial merry-go-round is not any way to run a premier league club.

  • Comment number 40.

    I think Shearer's appointment as Newcastle boss is more of a distraction for the team at such a crucial time in the season, rather than a blessing. Obviously the manager has a big role to play, like motivating the players and instructing them, but one thing we should remember is that it is the players who wins matches, not managers. I don't see Shearer doing anything miraculous with only a few games left, but I do believe that in the long run, he might be the next David Moyes. Shearer should be given some time to mend things up at St. James' Park.

    I totally agree with lost_the_flyaway (#36: ...I've seen the best of Martins when Owen is off the pitch). They are not the best of striking partners. Newcastle should bring someone like Emile Heskey for that. Or maybe a 4-3-1-2 formation might help.

  • Comment number 41.

    Student grant 75 - exactly the kind of totally unfounded comment I'm talking about. The fans got Allardyce sacked? Where did you get that piece of information from? The fans were singing his name in his last game in charge away to Stoke in the FA Cup during what was one of the most depressing games of football I've ever witnessed. Please tell me what you base your opinion on - do you live in Newcastle, do you regularly attend the matches, do you liaise with Geordies on a daily basis, do you subscribe to the club fanzines and Newcastle Evening Chronicle? Come on man. Surely if the fans got Allardyce sacked then we could have had Hiddink installed as his replacement, or am I just making up silly tales?

  • Comment number 42.

    Poor article, any chance of some intelligent and new insights please? True Newcastle fans, who go to the games, knew exactly how yesterday v Chelsea would turn out. You do the man a disservice; think Big Al knew before he signed up for the 8 games the reality of the situation. After all, Alan is a regular visitor to SJP. And who are these people questioning Alan's motives? Obviously not NUFC supporters or locals. When you've achieved what Alan has achieved on and off the field then I'll take notice.

  • Comment number 43.

    This really is by far and away the WORST choice of topic for analysis. No Newcastle fan in their right mind expected anything out of this game before Shearer came in, and afterwards... we weren't particularly surprised that he was unable to perform a miracle. We aren't looking for him to walk on water or turn it into wine before walking on it.

    All we need is him to bring the team along to play well for the few games we've got a shot at winning. Liverpool is another game we've written off. He's got 6 matches he could possibly take something from (in my opinion only 5) and THAT is where you should be putting the analysis. NOT analysing the fact that after 2 training sessions he hasn't turned a relegation form side into one that can thrash a Chelski side worth about 5 times the amount of the Newcastle side.

    I would now like 2 things. #1 I want the time back which I wasted reading this. and #2 I would like you to write something worth reading for once OR you could stop them advertising it like it would be worth reading. Elevate Gavin Strachan's blog or something, at least he gives thoughtful insight on something worth analysing.

  • Comment number 44.

    21. At 12:29pm on 05 Apr 2009, Phil McNulty - BBC Sport wrote:
    What do Newcastle fans feel about the partnership of Owens and Martins in attack. Quite a few seasoned Newcastle observers I spoke to at St James' Park do not believe they are effective together.

    Any mileage in that argument? They will need both for the next seven games I reckon.

    That's not an argument... that's a statement!

    Martins and Owen don't really form an effective strike partnership because they play similar styles of attack, hanging on the last defender and then generally trying to get a goal once they get the ball... even when not in the best position to do so.
    This does not work for them for 2 main reasons; #1. Owen hasn't got the pace he used to have, so he shouldn't be playing that way anymore in my opinion. A sensible option for him would be to drop a little deeper and try to play like a link player, he still has the energy and work rate (even if he doesn't have the pace) so that should be used to best effect. #2. Newcastle's midfield are absolutely useless at supplying the forwards with through balls which that style of attack would flourish with. The number of times we saw high balls going in which were of no use, or poor passes being cut out easily by the Chelsea back 4 just made it look like a bad joke.

    The way to fix this would be using a more flowing midfield which is directly linked to the attack (hence why Owen should be used more as a link player, his experience and ability to read the game would be of great benefit in this position). I would have suggested Lovenkrands to partner Martins up front (the latter of which needs Shearer to give him some tips on how to finish properly) except Lovenkrands has been injured and I'm not sure when he'll be back. I'd probably give Andy Carroll (Sp?) a run out instead since we'd need to play them in correct positions that suit them in order to switch to the 4-3-3 and thus give our attack any chance of providing something which flows for a change.

    Naturally the passing would be a key element to this and so heavy amounts of work on that methinks. (That one is needed regardless of what system we're going to play.)

  • Comment number 45.

    there are some players who are holding newcastle back, even though they are playing every week and handing goals to the opposition. the main man is collocini, but i guess that newcastle are used to centre backs doing that, eg boumsong, bramble to name a few. never mind the new manager its the BACKROOM STAFF who are the problem and we need to get someone in who actually knows football not these monkeys who dont know what the hell they are doing.

  • Comment number 46.

    #43 - With all the media speculation before the game it would be totally remiss not to follow it up in a blog - like it or not, this is the story most people are interested in.

    It seems to me no Newcastle fan enjoys any article written about their club. Perhaps you're best off skipping the next one, eh?

  • Comment number 47.

    I totally agree with #25. Keegan's decision to play Owen behind the front two was a revelation. It gave Owen a new lease of life and he was enjoying it. Remember the first day of the season and the draw at OT - a distant memory now but there was so much promise if Keegan had stayed. I still think if he had really wanted to he could have bided his time and finally convinced Ashley to get rid of his buddy Wise.

  • Comment number 48.

    At the end of the day, i don't think any Town supporter was looking for some sort of "Magical Divine Intervention" which a lot of people posting comments on this blog seem to believe.

    Shearer was hired by Ashley to simply boost the teams morale for the last few games he has in charge, and i completely agree with Phil when he says that he doesn't particularly need the badges. To be honest the players know how to play football, but a lot of supporters of the club need to question, "Do they really want to play football for THIS club?"

    Back in the Nobby Solano, Gary Speed and dare i say the Laurent Robert days, players were playing for themselves, the fans and Bobby Robson. Seven games into the season when he was sacked is where i believe the whole problem started to occur. With Robson, players had an outstanding relationship. And i'm not even talking about world class players, i'm talking about players that worked together, AS A TEAM, and didn't just want the big fat money sum at the end of the week.

    I think since the Robson days we've kept one player who works for himself and the team (that is illusionary)...Steve Harper.

    Newcastle really can't afford to be playing Championship football next season, and moreso can't afford to keep chopping and changing managers. If the toon buy a few players in the next transfer window who actually want to play football instead of dilly dallying around thinking of getting home, they might have a chance of securing a top half finish next season, be it in the Championship or Premier League.

    Aaaaand Deeeep Breath.

  • Comment number 49.

    21. At 12:29pm on 05 Apr 2009, Phil McNulty - BBC Sport wrote:
    What do Newcastle fans feel about the partnership of Owens and Martins in attack. Quite a few seasoned Newcastle observers I spoke to at St James' Park do not believe they are effective together.

    Any mileage in that argument? They will need both for the next seven games I reckon.


    Last season, when Newcastle were in a slightly better, but still precarious, situation, it was turned around by the deployment of Martins & Viduka up front, with Michael Owen coming from deep. We won several games and scored a number of goals with that formation.

    I'd like to see it tried again with Andy Carroll taking the Mark Viduka role.

  • Comment number 50.

    re: #49 - I see now that someone else posted this same suggestion earlier (#25)! Sorry to have missed it!

  • Comment number 51.

    shearer wont be able to turn newcastle around, too much dead wood in the squad and not strong enough for the premiership at the moment. I expect them to go down, bringing in shearer for a reported £1 million for 8 games is stupid, they need a manager with experience right now but have ended up with a novice. a hero,.. but a novice.

  • Comment number 52.

    To most Geordies, Alan Shearer is a footballing idol. Yet, when you put the team into perspective, how many of the starting eleven are Geordies?

  • Comment number 53.

    Did any Newcastle fan actually expect to get a result against Chelsea? I hope not. They have been awful all season; even the appointment of their "messiah" as manager was not going to change that in a matter of a few days.

    While I don't question the credentials of Shearer (I too feel that these qualification badges are relatively unimportant), the fact remains that he is completely inexperienced as a coach. To come in and manage a club during a healthy period without any prior knowledge would be tough enough; to be appointed as manager during dire times (and that's an understatement) will be virtually impossible. They were a slightly improved side against Chelsea but there is a long, long way to go before avoiding relegation becomes a realistic scenario. And there lies the major barrier to achieving safety; the amount of time afforded to Shearer.

    Does anyone think there is enough time for Shearer to work his magic and turn the club's fortunes around? I guess Geordies have to cling to this hope.

    He has to get the best out of a leaky defence, an inconsistent midfield with no real match winners and a misfiring (not to mention injury prone) attack, including a Michael Owen who is looking over the hill game after game. And all this needs to happen by next weekend or it is simply a case of too little, too late I'm afraid.

    My opinion? Farewell to the once proud club that was Newcastle.

  • Comment number 54.

    if you discovered one of your kid's teachers had no qualifications, you'd be calling for them to be sacked...
    if you discovered your doctor had no qualifications, or your bank manager had no formal training you'd want them sacked, yet here's Newcastle United, a multi million pound business actually welcoming Shearer who hasn't made any attempt to become qualified to do this job; (as many older players do before retiring) why has the FA allowed this (albeit temporary) appointment?
    simple... it's Ian Dowie not Shearer who's in the hot seat, and Shearer's only there to keep the masses quiet as the once great team slowly slides into the Championship. It's a huge gamble on the part of the owner, and one i can't see him winning.

  • Comment number 55.

    34 - Yabooga

    I know where you are coming from regarding the media portrayal of Newcastle. I completely take your point that there are some very intelligent and sensible Newcastle fans that both love the club and understand football. There are also a lot of fans at the other end of the spectrum...this is true of all clubs..but possibly more true for Newcastle. The reason the media like to write about Newcastle is because they sell papaers. This is because Newcastle are a bit of a characature of a football club... they live in extremes, and that is why there is genuine interest from them from people all over the country, as well as the Newcastle fans themselves.

    Newcastle fans are always quick to point out that "it's like a religion" (something i've never heard a Bristol City fan say for example). The Keegan factor saw a huge injection of life that you simply could not get at any other club - they went from playing tn front of half empty stadiums under Ardiles to packed houses ever week - not other club could have this sort of "swing" overnight...

    At the same time Newcastle became everyones 2nd favourite team - this meant we were all interested in them....

    The Shearer factor is another Soap-Opera type event ... and the seemingly positive reaction to him is once again typical of Newcastle fans - please note this is not a criticism - it is meant as a positive...

    I for one don't have a problem with Necastle fans, and certainly would not want to meet you in a city center pub (as advised) to discuss the situation - however - you must see that the rest of us quite like obseving the goings on at the countries most "extreme" club... that is all...

    All i would add is - if Shearer really does love the club and the Geordie people... why has he only taken the job for 8 games and it has taken £2m of Mike Ashleys money for him to take up the challenge at a club he claims to love so much....

    I would have had more respect for Shearer and it would have caused a lot less synicism (spelling?) if he had said "i'll take the job and try and keep us up for 8 games (now only 7 left) for free - but give the fans the £2m back as a refund on their season tickets, or better still just give away £2m of tickets and shirts etc to local schools... as they have had to put up with a season of complete farce!"... he doesn't need £2m - but the fans that have paid his wages for so long could do with it in these hard times....

  • Comment number 56.

    Every geordie has to realise that this is only the first game, and it was against chelsea.
    But i don't understand Enrique. His throw-ins always resulted in him giving the ball away, and his passing was dreadful.
    I also feel that throughout the season, Jonas Guiterreuz has been given no support on the right flank. He's great at holding up play and taking it to the defenders, and i find his stamina unbelievable. But he is constantly surrounded by defenders without any support. I think that it would be better to play 4-5-1-1 instead of 4-4-2, because it allows someone like Owen to stay in the opposition half, whilst Oba Martins can run around anywhere behind him, so he can help Jonas. If Oba can back-track, it gives the central midfielders the option to help Newcastle's porous defense.
    I am asking anyone who knows Mr. Shearer or Mr. Dowie to pass this on to them.
    We must beat Stoke and Middlesborough. No one would bear to see Sunderland and Middlesborough survive and the Toon in the Championship. Everyone has seen what happened to Leeds United, so why are we letting the same happen to us?

  • Comment number 57.

    #34., Yabooga

    agree with your post completely. well said. best written post on here by a mile.

    whitley for the vase!

  • Comment number 58.

    Yabooga - you're completely wrong that is exactly what the majority of us NUFC fans believe, other teams along with there followers should be honoured to watch the mighty Newcastle United and should feel overcome with joy to step foot at such a memorable football stadium which has been home to some, no lets get this straight, all of the greatest football player's to walk the planet.

    Ok sarcasm isn't my greatest point but I think I got my point across, some people mentioning no names as I don't want to embarrass the people who have such a poor knowledge and understanding of football and bring up irrelevant points when this article is based around the game on Saturday and the homecoming of AS.

    I agree we don't need someone who has experience in relegation battles, ID is capable to bring enough of that to the table, did anyone want to see the likes of Venables, maybe we should of snapped old Sven up? No, AS is here to boost morale, put smiles on the kids faces and put a fraction of belief in the hearts of the die hard toon army (obviously i'm talking about the 50,000 who turn up every other week at St. J's), this will have a knock on effect on the players however Chelsea was just a bit too much of a good team on the day i think, quality prevailed.

    Shearer is in a win win situation, let's just hope he doesn't see it this way, keeps the toon up and we can all breath a sigh of relief, forget the 08/09 season and go back to believing we are the best team in europe!


  • Comment number 59.


    while I enjoyed reading the article as I do the vast majority of your works I feel I have to take issue with this comment

    "And I am not hugely convinced by the need for coaching badges anyway".

    I'm not sure if you've taken any coaching badges Phil but I have (and I'm trying desperately to break into the professional game, no mean feat for a non pro player). If you had the experience of going on these courses and working darn hard to try to get the badges you would appreciate just how hard they are to achieve, which is why so many ex pros don't bother (even though they inherently get an advantage by entering at a higher level).

    The badges are extremely valuable and really do open your eyes, it's not just about tactics and positional play it's also about the physicality of the game, the mental impact of decisions and the psychology of players and the team as the whole. Some people have an aptitude for it others don't hence the phrase great players don't always make great managers.

    Please don't dismiss them out of hand. Mr Shearer is on the path with his badges and I wish him the best of luck. Naturally his reputation has opened doors for him, I just hope I'm lucky enough to have a few doors opened for me.

    Let's just hope his temporary stay goes well, he learns a lot and gets more experience to eventually become a succesful English manager in the Premier League (of which there are far too few).


  • Comment number 60.

    As someone with a lot of time for the toon although not a supporter, I think the Geordies could do with considering a few realities in terms of players, finances and mangers.

    The only players who seem prepared to sign for Newcastle are those who aren't good enough to play for the top four or have been rejected by them, many it appears in hindsight due to injury problems. The 'Toon' needs to recruit young, hungry and up and coming players rather than those whose best days are behind them (Michael Owen, Nicky Butt and Mark Viduka???).

    Unfortunately the Premier League today is very different to that which Keegan in his first incarnation inhabited. The ability for any team to break into the top four relies on the ability and willingess of billionaire owners to finance the supporters desires. It appears Mike Ashley didn't undertake due proper diligence and had to clear up the financial crisis left behind by Freddie Shepherd's unrealistic expectations just as Roman Abromavich saved Chelsea, after Ken Bates profligacy. Things might have seemed better under Freddie Fletcher but the club was ultimately heading for financial disaster. However after spending GBP100 million Ashley wasn't able or prepared to continue funding at the required level so he then chose to look for cheaper quick fix solutions, firstly with the choice of Wise and Keegan, then when that imploded, Joe Kinnear and now Alan Shearer.

    The fans need to understand that it will take a team like Newcastle at least 3 years to build the foundations where they can consistently challenge for Europe. The club needs a manager who has had extensive experience of building a club up from its foundations rather like David Moyes did at Preston and Everton and Alex Ferguson has done at Man United, and is able and willing to build Newcastle in the same way and then stick with them, as Bill Kenwright and the United board did. Overnight success is very rare and even when it occurs it rarely lasts, look at Roy Keane and Sunderland.

    How many managers have Newcastle had since Moyes was appointed at Everton, let alone Ferguson at Manchester United? How can any club be consistently successful in the face of such instability? Its taken even Rafa Benitez five years to come close to winning a Premiership. If Big Sam had played a more alluring brand of football then he should have been stuck with but if after 3 years, Newcastle had turned into another Bolton, then I sympathise with those Geordies who wanted to be rid of him.

    As for Ashley, I think he believes that relegation now is more likely than not. Appointing Shearer gives him cover until the end of season for him to restore what he sees as the club's financial health which requires a significant reduction in next season's wage bill by offloading a majority of the present squad, including several of the expensive signings that he inherited. If Shearer fails Ashley will be free to run the club as he sees fit, i.e. as a business. Dowie can then spearhead a strong promotion push (as he did with Crystal Palace) with a playing squad that doesn't cost much more than clubs such as those close to promotion this season. With the parachute payments continuing this will most importantly for him enable Newcastle to become profitable on a sustainable basis, even if crowds are down 10-20%.

    If promotion was then achieved Ashley would seek to improve the squad to retain Premiership status but on a more financially sustainable basis which maintains the club's profit margins. Without relegation, many players won't leave, fans expectations won't change and it will be harder for Ashley to improve the club's financial position.

  • Comment number 61.

    Best wishes to Alan Shearer.

    Dr. Cajetan Coelho

  • Comment number 62.


  • Comment number 63.

    As a result of failing to receive a re-election to the football league, Gateshead were replaced by Peterborough in 1960. I cannot confirm the information often quoted, that Newcastle FC voted against Gateshead, and I would hope that this is inaccurate. Perhaps we can see the true facts about such a consideration.

    Ironic, perhaps, that Newcastle FC could be meeting Peterborough FC next season !


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