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Brave Shearer gives Newcastle hope

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Phil McNulty | 06:45 UK time, Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Alan Shearer blew the dust off an old one by claiming it was better to be a lucky manager than a good one - but Newcastle United's Premier League life may just have been saved by fortune favouring the brave.

Shearer's courage as a player was beyond question and it was a quality he saw in Newcastle United as they beat Middlesbrough at a thunderous St James' Park to take a small, but potentially decisive, stride towards safety.

And as Shearer sat wearing the winner's smile after a five-week crash course in the torture of managing Newcastle, he could also reflect on a fearless subsitution that may yet be seen as a defining moment in his fledgling managerial career.

With Newcastle and Middlesbrough locked at 1-1 - the scoreline from hell as far as their survival prospects were concerned - Shearer chose to haul off his long-time friend and club captain Michael Owen.

It was a high-risk strategy justified by huge reward as Owen's replacement Obafemi Martins took just 55 seconds to score the goal that could change the course of Newcastle's future.


When Peter Lovenkrands, another substitute, added Newcastle's third late on, it only added to the growing sense that Shearer might just have what it takes for this managerial lark after all.

Shearer has cultivated an impassive manner on the touchline since arriving at Newcastle - an image helped by not having one jot to celebrate after forsaking the sofa for the technical area.

But after labelling this as the biggest game he has been involved in with Newcastle, the joy of victory brought signs of the old Shearer back to St James' Park.

Goals were greeted by his trademark celebrations, albeit in a smart suit as opposed to a black and white shirt, and he even advanced on to the pitch at the final whistle to join in the victory celebrations with his players.

Nothing flamboyant of course - he was at pains to point out safety is by no means guaranteed by a single win - but you sensed this was a man who had discovered how victory as a manager tastes and he enjoys it.

And with the word around Newcastle strongly suggesting he will be in charge next season providing he gets reasonable backing from owner Mike Ashley, then there may be more where this came from.

This being Newcastle, no-one should expect this win to be the catalyst for a straightforward march to safety in their final games against Fulham and Aston Villa.

No, that would be too easy woudn't it?

Give Newcastle a mile and they will take an inch, but the passion of this display suggests they may just have a little bit more to offer than Phil Brown's collapsing Hull City.

Shearer hurled superlatives at his players in an effort to maintain their confidence for that final push: "Brilliant...courageous...big, big performances from big men...magnificent feeling."

Not quite Alan - but just the sort of improvement and result needed to send the Toon Army off to Shearer's Bar and The Strawberry in better heart than they had arrived.

And with Shearer demonstrating his ability to make cold, clear-headed decisions in the heat of battle by removing Owen, they made their bids to drink the place dry with renewed hope.

Shearer's next big decision will be what to do after Martins' success? Will he keep his place against Fulham? Will Owen be on the sidelines.

Owen used his programme notes to mount a stirring defence of his record, stating that he believes Shearer was wrong to leave him out against Liverpool recently. He does not appear to have a huge reservoir of affection on Tyneside, but anyone who suggests he does not care does not know Michael Owen.

You sense, however, that his time is winding down at Newcastle. Owen's other appearance in the match programme was modelling next season's new kit - irony anyone?

It was the sort of compelling evening Newcastle United and St James' Park were invented for. Nerves, tension, fear, fingernails chewed, stomach churning - and that was just on the walk up to the ground.

They came from far and wide, one banner was emblazoned "Toon Army Poland", almost in the manner of those gathering at the bedside of an ailing relative, waiting to discover which way it will go.

And while it was all celebration, for now, for Shearer and Newcastle, there was only despair for Middlesbrough manager Gareth Southgate and his players.

Middlesbrough's display summed up so much of their season. Plenty of promise but no punch - it is a deadly combination when you need wins to stay in the Premier League.

Southgate cut an impressive figure after the game, recognising the hurt suffered by Middlesbrough's fans and the entire club, but also placing defeat in context when he said: "All of the difficult nights in my life have been in football, so I have a sense of perspective."

All the sounds coming out of Middlesbrough suggest Southgate will keep his job, even if they are relegated, and this offers us another irony to consider.

Middlesbrough, on many levels, are an example to Newcastle. Indeed there is a case for saying they actually put their near neighbours to shame.

Chairman Steve Gibson does not sack his managers at the first sign of trouble and they have a flourishing youth policy producing local talent that is given its chance. This emphasis on stability is the polar opposite to Newcastle's dysfunctionality.

Some might say this will do them a fat lot of good in the Championship, but Middlesbrough is based on Gibson's sound principles and he is the man who has single-handedly under-pinned all the successes they have had in recent years.

He will be criticised for being too loyal if Southgate takes Boro down, but Gibson's track record tells us he has good reason for sticking with his manager and who can say with certainty that change would have made a difference?

If Shearer stays at Newcastle, you can expect him to study the Middlesbrough model of stability, continuity and the development of homegrown talent.

This is all for the future - and that future suddenly looks a little brighter after the only result Newcastle could seriously contemplate if they want to survive.


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  • Comment number 1.

    Not sure that anyone would pay money for Michael Owen but what about Mark Viduka? He was marvellous and I am surprised you haven't said more about him!

  • Comment number 2.

    As usual the reaction on Tyneside is well over the top, I'll give Shearer a touch of credit that he knows only two wins will save their skin so isn't getting carried away.

    Fulham won't roll over and die by any means, Utd will be champions by the time they play Hull at the KC and will be thinking of the CL final, i'm sure if that happens they'll be acusations abound, but there are 38 games in a season......

    I know how bad fighting relegation is being a die hard Evertonian. It shows how poor the bottom half is this season, Newcastle in all actuality will probably stay up as the teams around them will not win another game between them, that's a pretty sad inditement of the league

  • Comment number 3.

    Let's not get carried away. It is one win against a club i do admire for their philosophy of giving young talent a chance, and trying to pay the game the right way,but boro are poor and have zero confidence.
    Newcastle will stay up, Boro and Hull will go down, unfortunatley i think W.B.A will also go down as well. If they did not have to play Liverpool i would give them a fighting chance.
    Newcastle however, have massive problems, a squad full of used to be good players,plying their trade; Nolan, Barton, Owen, Duff, Viduka, Smith and Butt.
    Collocini, Lovenkrads, Ryan Taylor and Harper are all just plain average.
    Steven Taylor, Martins,Bassong and potentially Carroll are the only players that can offer hope to this, lets face it very sad joke of a club.

  • Comment number 4.

    Viduka and Martins put in very good performances. Shearer has already shown he's not scared to make the big decdisions and I think he'll have to drop Owen to the bench for the remaining games.

    It looks like Shearer's main priority with an average squad is to inject condidence and team spirit. Making his intention to get rid of Barton clear was a big step in the right direction.

    Now he's got an important win he's hurling the superlatives around. If that inspires the current crop of players to do enough to secure their survial this yearthen fine. But I think we'll see Shearer get rid of a lot of dead wood in the summer.

    I feel sorry for Boro but that's it for their chances this season.

  • Comment number 5.


    I've read the blog again becuase well i'be a twork since 05:50 and am a bit bleary eyed! If Newcastle stay up do you not think it will only be the same again next year?

    A squad of very average players, will some bound to leave regardless of survival or not. Would a decent player want to go to Newcastle and the constant instability? I think not, so another season of struggle and drama......well comedy to the rest of us. It will be a long while until Newcastle are above Villa, Spurs, City, etc

  • Comment number 6.

    I'm not British,so I do not have any desire to see any team get relegated,it must be a frightening possibility for everyone involved with the club.Last night's match sometimes looked more of a slug fest than a purely football match,not for the tackles,but for the desperation the opposing sets of players were displaying.But football is all about passion,and the toon army will match into hell if it will save their team.Newcastle's problem is this,there are too many players on their rota in the twilight of their careers,or whose better days honestly are behind them.Butt,Duff,Viduka, Geremi,even Owen it would seem.They might put in one or two vintage performances,like Viduka's last night,but over a whole season.... a different proposition.Alan might have to ponder an overhaul soon,whether they survive or not.

  • Comment number 7.

    The sign of a great manager in the making was when Shearer stayed on the pitch to congratulate not only the goalscorers but the whole newcastle team and was the last one down the tunnel. I gave him a round of applause for that.

    And as a liverpool fan I plead with any liverpool hierarchy not to put any kind of bid in for downing, has no right foot and no end product, he can only put a cross in when there is a free kick and no-one closing him down. Keer Riera. magic feet. one more season and he will be up to speed with the pace of the Premier League.

  • Comment number 8.

    Where are all idiots who always say that Phil only blogs about the top 4?

    Good blog Phil, and you've silenced the moaners! For now anyway. I'm sure they'll find something else to whinge about as the day goes on.

    Anyway, good win for Newcastle. It's going to be very tight all the way to the end of the season now. I think Newcastle have enough talent to stay up, but will they use it effectively? Not sure. They're prone to pressing the self destruct button repeatedly! To be perfectly honest, Newcastle aren't performing any better or worse than they have done all season. A load of bad games followed by one or two good ones. It's just that they've been very lucky that most of the other results have gone their way. Hull have just imploded for the last 20 games and shouldn't really be down there after the start they had. West Brom were also dropping points all over the shop until the weekend. Middlesbrough are just useless in every department. So Newcastle are really calling the shots in this battle. If they go down, they've only got themselves to blame as they've had a fair amount of "help" along the way.

    My prediction for the relegated teams is - WBA, Middlesbrough and Hull. I think Newcastle will escape by the skin of their teeth although, to be honest, i hope they do go down. I've got nothing against the club at all, it might just give their fans the dose of reality that they need! They're not a big club, and the sooner they realise it the better.

    Newcastle's defence has been shocking this season. As in every other season. So guess what they'll go and do in the summer? Same as what they always do! Buy strikers and wingers! :-)

  • Comment number 9.

    ''Newcastle however, have massive problems, a squad full of used to be good players,plying their trade; Nolan, Barton, Owen, Duff, Viduka, Smith and Butt.''

    viduka is still a touch of class. we dont have another player with his quality

  • Comment number 10.

    Poor Owen I think your right time is running out for him. I think next season he'll be sat on the sofa, not the one on match of the day but the one with Jamie Redknapp on it selling nintendo wii's - players of potential but careers cut short through injury.

  • Comment number 11.

    I think that NUFC will do just enough to stay in the premiership (on goal difference only) and will improve next year. Good luck to them.


    Once again you have provided us with a poorly written article and a long pre mod time.

  • Comment number 12.

    I am sorry Phil, but I cannot agree that it was a "brave substitution" which won the match for Newcastle or that there "may be more where this came from" and this is for a variety of reasons.

    Firstly, I thought Middlesborough looked the more dangerous until they were landed the sucker punch of the second newcastle goal. Emnes, Tuncay and King were all guilty of glaring misses which could so easily have swung the game Middlesborough's way. Newcastle on the other hand, had chances in the first half, but were, in my opinion, under the cosh for a majority of the second half. And this is because of one thing that Shearer (like his predecessors) still has not come close to sorting out; Newcastle's defending. Coloccini dropped out and was replaced by Steven Taylor who played a fairly solid game, but Taylor was still guilty of a number of mistakes and fouls which do not yet suggest that he is in anyway the man to build a defence around.

    Secondly, can we remember that prior to this game Newcastle had scored 1 goal under Alan Shearer thus far despite Big Al making Claudio Ranieri with the amount of times he tinkers with his teams. Last night they were up against a much depleted Boro defence who's most experienced centre-back was Robert Huth, who this season has looked a pale imitation of the promising prospect he was at Chelsea. Despite playing a blinder last night Mark Viduka looks nothing like the player he once was and almost seems eager to return down under for his retirement. Michael Owen, meanwhile, looked keen but never really did anything for Newcastle to suggest that he is anything near the player he was.

    What if he "gets reasonable backing from owner Mike Ashley"? On what evidence can you base the argument that Shearer will succeed in the transfer market? Has he been the instrumental figure behind one of the few recent Newcastle signings to have worked out. But Phil you also seem to be ignoring the fact that all evidence from Tyneside is that there will be no money to spend in the summer. Mike Ashley has said it, and though that is far from gospel, it cannot be said to promise much in the way of a revamping of a squad that is in serious need of rebuilding.

    Last night's game was entertaining but only because we were watching two equally poor teams who were desperate to win it in order to stay up. Both defences looked shaky, midfield's lacking in creativity (Tuncay apart). On the other hand Boro's attack did look pacy enough to expose Newcastle, while the Toon looked dangerous everytime the ball was placed in the Boro box from a cross or set piece. It was the Toon who, somehow, got the breaks. Both teams deserve credit for making such a fight last night which in turn made it actually rather exciting. But to suggest that because Shearer's team got the luck on the night (not that it was not gained through a lot of endeavour however), that they are suddenly destined to rise under his 'esteemed' hand is a very flawed argument indeed.

  • Comment number 13.

    It was a "high-risk strategy"?! Bringing on Newcastle's best striker? Granted he was an injury doubt but this is hyperbole in the extreme. You don't need to be any kind of managerial genius to work that one out I'm sorry. Credit to the players, they got an excellent result when needed - but has Shearer shown any kind of tactical acumen thus far? Yet to be convinced. We'll see in a couple of weeks I suppose.

  • Comment number 14.

    "Shearer has cultivated an impassive manner on the touchline since arriving at Newcastle " Nothing new in that it's all we ever saw of him while on TV before becoming a Pundit. Personally he and the club I have little respect for. I have watched too many really good players go to Newcastle and become relgation fodder. I genuinely believe if it wasn't for Shay Given they would have been relegated already.
    I hope they don't survive. I couldn't handle another year of Newcastle are the biggest club rubbish we get every season. A year in the Doldroms would show us if Shearer really does have the ability so many think. As for courage, getting 40 grand a week and playing like you mean it is easy. Try standing up for something important or rescuing someones life, that's courge. I note there isn't a word about Liverpools glory road after Man Utd won on Sunday.

  • Comment number 15.

    Mark Viduka was outstanding last night. Alan Shearer said in his post-match press conference that Newcastle had worked particularly hard to get him fit because they know the sort of quality he can bring.

    He held the ball up superbly, created chances for others and was unlucky not to score when his volley hit a post. Viduka is an enigmatic figure, but he can play and he proved it once more.

    In answer to Xavierneville, if Newcastle do not learn lessons from this season then they never will - and I agree the squad contains too many average players.

    A side of greater quality than Middlesbrough would have punished their defence severely last night, but you have to credit the way Newcastle came back from conceding that early goal. It showed great character.

    If Shearer stays - and all the suggestions at St James' Park last night were that he will - then he is too bright not to learn from the mistakes of the past. He has seen enough of them at close quarters.

    Let's hope owner Mike Ashley learns from his and gives Shearer the right support and infrastructure to make him stay. To lose one Geordie icon in Kevin Keegan might be unfortunate - to lose a second in Shearer would be worse than careless.

  • Comment number 16.

    Brave Shearer? Come of it.

    The man has been drafted in as a cheerleader and nothing more. Look at the people he has around him - Dowie, Calderwood, Houghton - who is actually pulling the strings here? It sure ain't Shearer.

  • Comment number 17.

    Nice article Phil. I predicted 3-1 and my money came in. I hope the boys can keep this up. Disastrous season for us and getting the team tactically right and Oba fit should be the priorities. Owen can leave and will. Viduka should stay as well. Thought Harper, Beye, Bassong and Viduka all had good games.

    I am still unsure whether Shearer should be the manager but I am more convinced of that than Ashley being the chairman.

    2 technical points

    1. Shearer hurled superlatives at his players in an effort to maintain their confidence for that final push: "Brilliant...courageous...big, big performances from big men...magnificent feeling." - None of those are superlatives.

    2. Shearer has cultivated an impassive manner on the touchline since arriving at Newcastle. - Have you been watching him? He is acting as he always did; shouting and screaming at the ref half the time.

  • Comment number 18.

    I laugh at this blog in many ways. Shearer was not particularly brave. He had no choice. Anyone in his position had to go for it. And it sums up (a) Newcastle's plight and (b) this season's Premiership that a desperate 3-1 win at home over a side fit for relegation is seen as a victory. IMO Newcastle ARE one of the worst three sides in that division. They have been consistantly poor all season (the home game at Christmas when they lost 0-5 to Liverpool was the most one sided games I have ever seen at any level. They were humiliated but could have lost 14-0, really had Liverpool been completely ruthless) and it would not surprise me were they to lose both games against Fulham and Villa. Hull could get a point and I do not discount the idea of WBA getting some from their last two games. Maybe their luck returned temporarily but will it desert them at the end? Either way, around a dozen of this team are way past their best...major surgery needed. Also, it will be interesting to see what the Shearer management team make of it were they to stay up. I would not get too optimistic...

  • Comment number 19.

    To be fair, I dont now see Hull winning another game without "assistance" so Newcastle are probably only going to need another point to keep themselves up. Of course, Manchester United will probably not be all that motivated on the last day of the season, assuming they have already wrapped up the league, and its not beyond the realms of possibility that Hull might scrape a 1-nil there.

    Middlesbrough are sadly now doomed, barring a recovery of Lazarus proportions over their last two games, which is a shame for a club that is generally run properly without any of the silly money being thrown around. As a northeastern native, I dont especially want to see any of the local clubs go down, but given the choice I'd rather Newcastle had lost last night, since relegation might give the whole club a kick up the rear and get them operating in a sensible fashion again.

    As it now looks likely they will be able to scrape to survival, albeit on goal difference,probably, you have to start pondering where they will go next season. Owen out and some defensive players in would be the sensible option, but then this is Newcastle United....

  • Comment number 20.

    A great and surprising win for the barcodes. I honestly thought it would stay at 1-1 -a result which surely would have sent both down and pleased no-one but Hull.
    Midds are now doomed barring a miracle which could happen given Hull's freefall. Hull represent Southgate's only chance and the way Hull players are refusing to play for Brown (player power gone mad in my view)will give him hope. There is no doubt Midds players are trying but they havent got the attacking talent with Alves being surely one of the worst signings of 08/09.
    For the magpies they now need at least 4pts from their 2 games with 6 i think being enough. Their best chance actually may well be against Villa away who, like Hull, are in freefall. Fulham at home may well be more difficult.

  • Comment number 21.

    In your account and in my Times very little/nothing is made of the fact that Boro went into this match with 3 central defenders missing. Can anybody imagine United playing Barcelona without Ferdinand, Vidic and Evans injured and it not being mentioned? The second and most influential goal - should never have been given - foul by Viduka on Huth + N'Castle player clearly offside and influencing play!
    Boro have been bad enough this season - some of the worst football in the Premier but they do deserve to be given a fair press.

  • Comment number 22.

    Good article as ever, Jean-Luc.

    Replacing Owen is not much of a gamble these days.

  • Comment number 23.

    Newcastle have been very lucky with the poor form of the other teams but now they are out of the zone, I think they will stay up. The way all of the teams in the drop zone are playing, they could lose their last 2 games and still hang on. They will be hoping that Man United don't wrap up the league title early though as they play Hull on the last day...

  • Comment number 24.

    Decent article, Phil. I have noticed a lot of 'just a novice manager' jibes being directed against Shearer in the football comment pages lately and I think it is right to give him credit for decisions that turn games.

    The truth is that Newcastle should not go down; a team which can field players like Viduka, Owen, Martins, Nicky Butt - veteran campaigners all - should not miss out to teams like Stoke and Hull. I think they will escape now, really because of Hull's astonishing slide. If they do, I hope Shearer stays there. I've nothing against him as a pundit, but the game needs more young English managers and his reputation - and achievement at keeping Newcastle up - should buy him time to rebuild.

    I feel sorry for 'Boro - Uefa Cup final to this - but some of the purchases - notably Alves - were wrong. Same for Southgate as for Shearer - hope he stays; we need English managers who can create teams that are more than 'committed' and 'organised.'

  • Comment number 25.

    If Newcastle survive (and it is still a big if) whoever is in charge next season will require an enormous war chest to address the obvious deficiencies they have. It may be Ashley again in charge of the purse strings, and we know his backing is limited.
    I fear a repeat of this season, unless they can acquire a billionaire backer of some sort to bring in the quality to reward the loyalty of their fans. The club itself has everything in place to achieve greatness, provided they add patience and continiuity to the set up.

  • Comment number 26.

    good blog Phil

    two games into Shearer's managerial stint(after Stoke) you suggested that you couldn't see any evidence of the team being moulded in his image but its clear that now some of his qualities as a player are being transmitted onto his team...guts and determination of central importance!

    stephen taylor perhaps exemplified this last night with a cracking towering header at a crucial point! you have to feel that Shearer has caught the managerial bug now...especially after the success of his substitutions, we could see his joy in his reaction after Martins' private he must have taken even more pleasure.

    If they are to survive and Shearer does stay then he may well have to look at the structure of the club and maybe learn from Middlesborough's policy which deserves credit. His stock will greatly increase if they do survive, perhaps given him more influence with in house policies.

    Im not convinced by Iain Dowie though...I mean was he ever renowned as a master tactician/motivator/disciplinarian? He appears a nice enough fellow and I mean him no harm but is he good enough? as a stop gap and immediate supporting vessel for Shearer I can understand his appointment but I cant see him staying on beyond the summer...

  • Comment number 27.

    First off, it's great to see a blog about teams not in the top four for a change, seems like forum posters have been taken notice of.

    There's a lot of people implying that Utd will put out a weakened side and that Hull have a good chance of getting something from their game against them on the last day of the season. I personally think that any Utd side will comfortably beat Hull. Would love for West Brom to stay up it just depends what kind of team Fat Rafa puts out against them, even if Utd win the league before they play, I'm sure the team selection will already of been made and that it will be a strong line up.

    Boro are down, can't seem them getting the goals or points from their last two games. I've predicted that they would go down for 3 seasons running now so it's about time.

  • Comment number 28.

    Xavierneville: "As usual the reaction on Tyneside is well over the top"

    Pardon? An overreaction that Newcastle have made a critical step towards staying in the Premiership?

  • Comment number 29.

    Great Stuff from King Al (and I am a Sunderland fan Ouch!) and I feel sorry for Gareth too, having bought a striker who doesn't seem to know where the goal is (but at least he is injured now) and a defence giving goals away like its Christmas.

    Anyway hope there are at least 2 Northern teams in the league next season

  • Comment number 30.

    Who cares about newcastle!! if not this season next season they will be relegated! Phil stop writing boring articles about newcastle and start writing about the CL final {manutd vs barca}

  • Comment number 31.

    2. At 07:31am on 12 May 2009, Xavierneville wrote:
    As usual the reaction on Tyneside is well over the top....

    Please tell me on what information you are basing this comment on?? Have you been on Tyneside since last nights match?? Anyone watching skysports news this morning would have seen that they showed about 6 different media headlines regarding the match last night every national newspaper was over the top but they showed one local paper which totaly played down last nights win. it is the national papers that always have the over the top reaction.

    Bit of advice,stick to being a 'die hard evertonian' eh?

  • Comment number 32.

    I was at the match last night, and what an atmosphere to accompany a cracking game! I'm a united fan but I desperately want Newcastle to survive. Add to that my dislike for Middlesbrough and you'll understand how for one night I was a die hard Toon fan! Being part of the Geordie crowd sat right below the away fans was an experience and a half, and the noise was deafening at times. I had an amazing night and was not only impressed with Newcastle's play (especially Viduka and Gutierrez), but also ecstatic with the win, especially after going behind. St James's Park, after such a loud pre-match, were eerily quiet when the first goal went in, but it wasn't long until we were bouncing again, and Taylor's equalise soon helped it further.

    Shearer - you legend - you did well yesterday, now please carry it on for the last 2 games of the season. You can keep the Toon up!

  • Comment number 33.

    As a Leeds fan, it's fascinating watching Newcastle at the moment. They look so much like we did in 2003 - one year before we went down. That season (2002/03) we were spared relegation by a few late wins and a few good performances from big name players, one of whom was Mark Viduka. After ending the season in 15th place, we expected to rebuild in the summer and aim for the top half again the following season.

    But we all know what happened, don't we? All saleable assetts were sold and we were forced to rely on loanee journeymen and undermotivated high-earners. Even with a squad containing Smith, Viduka, Paul Robinson, David Batty and Dominic Matteo, we sank like a stone.

    This memory leads me to feel next season will be another painfully tough one for Newcastle, even if they do stay up this time. And if their fans hadn't laughed so hard at our decline five years ago, I might even sympathise...

  • Comment number 34.

    "Brave Shearer gives Newcastle hope"

    Brave? Don't make me puke.

    What is exactly "brave" about this?

    Joke of a "blog" really.

  • Comment number 35.

    There's a lot of people implying that Utd will put out a weakened side and that Hull have a good chance of getting something from their game against them on the last day of the season. I personally think that any Utd side will comfortably beat Hull.



    Couldn't agree more. I can't see Hull getting another point. The comments from Andy Dawson - explaining why the team had rejected the idea of the manager to go to the horses prior to the Stoke game - though tactful and ostensibly supportive, demonstrated clearly what disarray Hull are in.

  • Comment number 36.

    Interesting blog Phil - nice not to be talking about the top 4!

    Owen is an interesting subject. Prior to the recent England games all I heard was top pundits saying he should be in the squad following the injuries to Crouch, Heskey etc.

    I watched the game and Owen couldn't be further from the striker that he once was pre-2006. Unfortunately I think the lad has gone. His main asset was pace, and his injuries have curtailed that. He has never been able to hold the ball up, and as last night showed he can't really drop off with any effect either. It was no surprise that the far stronger, more lively Martins had an instant impact.

    I feel for him, but have to 100% agree with Capello, that unless he demonstrates his return to form through consistently scoring goals, then his England career sadly is at an end.

  • Comment number 37.

    One thing is for sure, if United have already won the league before the last game of the season (which is very likely), then there is no way in a million years that Ferguson will risk any of the star players, the match against Barcelona is far too important. I agree that any United team is capable of beating any Hull team, but a weakened team will certainly give them a better chance and Hull will definitely have more to play for.

  • Comment number 38.

    Man Utd can afford to play Sir Alex at left back and Mike Phelan as a lone striker, they would still beat Hull.

  • Comment number 39.

    Seeing Obafemi Martins just stand and soak up the adulation of the Newcastle faithful was what English football is about.Its an intense love affair between the fans and the players.I cannot speak for Blatter and Platini,but they do not seem too sold with the idea of the premiership,especially with the big money floating around the place.But when the Newcastle fans sing the praises of Martins,is it a Nigerian they see,or a local boy who lives in their midst.Is Ole Gunnar Solksjaer a Mancunian or a Norwegian?I think some United fans might consider war if the answer war the later.The other domestic leagues simply cannot master the passion inherent in the English league,all of it,not just the premiership.I watched a match between Arsenal and Juventus,I think,a couple of years back in the Champions league when the latter were already out of the reckoning in the group phases.I was shocked at the half empty stands.But English clubs need protection from people like Malcolm Glazier,he's bankrupting a proper business.

  • Comment number 40.

    Sorry to say, but Shearer ain't proud at all. People simply don't see that this is the result of years of negative contribution. It started when Gullit was appointed and the board did not asked Shearer to become boss. That resulted in anger and he set up the players against the manager, causing Gullit had to leave after less then a season.

    This situation repeated itself with all the other manager, even when Sir Bobby Robson was in charge. First Shearer looked to give respect, but also in the end he managed to give Sir Bobby a disgraceful farewell to football.

    When he was finally first asked, he declined the hypocrite, stating "it wasn't his time yet", but in fact he got what he wanted for years. Now, as he wants to look like a Newcastle Forever Hero, he tries to safe them from the drop. To me, this is the situation he created in the first place, so I hope the drop will not be avoided.

  • Comment number 41.

    I hope Newcastle stay up. They are many football fans' "second team" not because they play good football (because they dont) but because of their passionate fans- third highest attendances in the premiership (after arsenal and ManU).

    If they do stay up, I believe they'll do better next season (though still mid-table). Shearer can do the same thing Keane did at sunderland. He's a big name, was a great player and always gave 100%. Many good (not great) players would want to play for him for that reason alone.

    Feel sorry for middlesbrough, but it definitely looks like theyre doomed along with Hull and West Brom. Cant believe Hull were second in the league to chelsea at one point! Though doomed or not, I agree with the previous poster- I do not want downing to sign for liverpool! Good players in average teams rarely make the step up to a decent team. Wouldnt mind Tevez though, however unlikely that may be

  • Comment number 42.

    To gilesy_v...the high risk in Shearer's strategy was not in putting Martins on, it was in taking Owen off. It took guts to remove someone with such a track record of goalscoring when Newcastle needed a goal to get the win that could keep them in the Premier League.

    I see that as a brave move and plenty of others did as well. I won't be changing my mind on that one.

    And to're right. I am still up here in Newcastle and there has not been a massive over-reaction to the win. Newcastle's fans were overjoyed with the victory, and why shouldn't they be?

    This was a priceless three points for them, but the mood remains cautious rather than celebratory. Shearer was swift to remind everyone, players and fans, that nothing is guaranteed by last night's win.

    Yes, the fans are happy. No, they have not gone over the top.

  • Comment number 43.

    Lets be honest Newcastle did not play that well last night & were lucky they come up against a woeful Middlesbrough outfit. In my humble opinion that performance last night from the bar codes would have lost to 95% of the premiership with the exception of Boro & Hull.

    I feel Newcastle will lose their remaining 2 fixtures yet still survive due to the teams below them not recording another point. It will be a very lucky escpe for the magpies surviving on 34 points unheard of.

  • Comment number 44.

    Phil, this ' bravery' journalism is utter rubbish, absolute tosh when applied to anyone involved in football.
    The combined wages of the crowd, wouldn't cover the weekly outlays needed to support the molycoddled shower of underachievers on the field ( and backroom staff !! ). It was a football game played out between 2 very poor teams and that's all, if they were any good, they wouldn't be in the position they're in, both deserve to go down.
    Next we'll see quotes about 'hero's'.... get em' in Afghanistan on 300 quid a week and no homes to come home to when their Army stint ends !
    At the very least, send the players to Catterick to talk to the troops about welfare issues, after all it's within an hours drive in a Ferrari !

  • Comment number 45.

    Can i just point out to you Phil that before last night Shearer had overseen five straight defeats, whilst Newcastle only scored one goal. How on earth you can then write that,

    "When Peter Lovenkrands, another substitute, added Newcastle's third late on, it only added to the growing sense that Shearer might just have what it takes for this managerial lark after all"

    completely beggars belief! They beat one of TWO teams that are worse than them AT HOME! They looked rubbish until Martins scored and only got a third as Boro had one at the back!

    Your analysis is flawed on so many levels!

  • Comment number 46.

    I know he wouldn't have been contemplating this when he went there, but Shearer has to seriously ask himself whether Michael Owen has still got it. In the years he's been there he has spent most of that time out injured, showed flashes of the finishing we know he has but he's generally been wading through treacle. Any club coming in has to ask themselves whether he is worth the wages they will have to pay. That's not just based on last night's game but the past three years.

  • Comment number 47.

    Martin's beautiful goal was a tribute to his athleticism and finely instinctive footballing skills. The way he fell in taking the goal bound swipe angled the line of the ball far too much for the goalkeeper to have any say on it.

    Lovenkrand goal looked a bit offsy but the flag stayed down. Opening header from Taylor was almost as good a goal as Alex's at the Emirates.
    The way Carroll dumped two gilt-edged chances only highlights the reason the team is in the dumps. The first one was a simple lay up. Viduka worked his socks off.

    Well done New Castle, but to borrow from Robert Frost, 'the night is long and forest deep...', you are not out of the woods yet. There are possibilities that should interest you.

    I really do not think it will come down to intrigue and collusion but if United do secure the title before they meet Hull in their last engagement it could well be that they are a bit indifferent towards the trivialities of the PL. You will not blame them if they have only Rome on their minds.

  • Comment number 48.

    Xavierneville - I seem to recall you making preposterous statements after the Newcastle Stoke blog last time around. The reaction on Tyneside is over the top is it? Are you actually here living on Tyneside? If so, then you've done a phenomenal job of ascertaining the general consensus of the city and its' people in 14 hours, and through the night as well. If you wish to gauge true opinion, and not base your opinions on ridiculous fabricated press stories, I suggest that you either catch a train and interview people on Grey Street, or visit websites such as and If this is not possible, then do try and give valid opinions. All the best.

  • Comment number 49.

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

  • Comment number 50.

    Ronaldomilesahead - you've answered your own question my dear. The reason that NUFC are mentioned in blogs like this, despite that fact that we're in a relegation battle, is that people like you read them and make comments on them. If you don't like the coverage and think it should stop, then don't read the blog.

  • Comment number 51.


    I lived in the the magnificant city for over 10 years and know the place inside side out, I also ran pubs in the town centre. I have more than my finger on the pulse with the people I know. I don't source from papers, the view point is a valid. Of course I'll stick to being a fan of team which shames yours into insignificance, well run, stable and well grounded. Not fanciful, poor run and and living in dreamland. It's exactly your type of one eyed viewpoints which give Geordie fans a poor name and lack of patience which has landed you in this position.

    Learn to wash your dirty linen in house........
    such as shame, as it is a great city

  • Comment number 52.

    Any story involving Shearer or Newcastle always produces sycophantic, inaccurate, disproportionate journalism but Shearer + Newcastle= boring, tired, myopic, cliquey journalism. As previously stated, this was their first win under his 'management' against a one of only TWO teams worse than them but judging by this report and the media attention given to the club, you could be forgiven for thinking they had just won the Champions League.

  • Comment number 53.

    The Lion of Gosforth was brave last night taking off Owen, and it proved that he will not let personal emotional ties get in the way of doing the job correctly - no jobs for the boys with Shearer. People can say as much as they want about Owen's goalscoring record, but that's all it is, a record. He is not doing the business now and has not been for a long time. He is disinterested, disheartened and is, in my humble opinion, past caring. His attitude and demeanour on the pitch of late have been disgraceful, his posture and body language are like that of a spoilt child not getting his way. Contrast that with someone like Andy Carroll, who came on for four minutes and put more in by winning headers, tackiling and grafting with passion than Owen has done since September last year. Owen is finished unless he manages to become humble and realise that he needs to adapt and change his game, just as Shearer did at the age of 29.

  • Comment number 54.

    As usual, it is the national press that does it's utmost to blow things out of all proportion. It is not the real fans that refer to Shearer as a 'mesiah' but the press. The result was huge for us last night, but no one believes we're safe by any means. It's just something to cheer about at long last.

    It is true to say that the standard in the bottom half of the league has been terrible, but it is not by 'luck' that any of the teams that are down the bottom are in the position. They're down there because they're poor. We are a poor side too, the worst in years, but if we survive it won't be because of luck, it will be because other teams finished with less points than us, therefore, making them worse.

    With regards to the remaining fixtures, I dont think anyone is under the illusion that the next two will be incredibly tough, but there has been a step in the right direction and that's waht we're celebrating.

    SnowJacuzzi007 - while we are not decorated with many trophies, our status as a big club (again, something perpetuated by the press) is derived from out support, our following and our (dwindling) reputation. We don't consider ourselves to be a big club that is owed any success, we just want some respect, some stability and the opportunity to have pride in the whole club.

    RONALDOMILESAHEAD - a sickening, horrible view of how football should be commented on and one typical of the sort of fans that give the real fans of your great club a bad name.

  • Comment number 55.

    I think the celebrating may be very premature for the barcodes, with Hull's final game probably against the man u youth squad (As they will probably have sewn up the League title by then, and resting everyone for the CL final) and with it being near high impossible to see where newcastle are going to get another point this season, I still fully expect them to go down. And I must say, the way they have treated managers and players over the last few years, a justly deserved relegation.

  • Comment number 56.

    well run, stable and well grounded. Not fanciful, poor run and and living in dreamland. It's exactly your type of one eyed viewpoints which give Geordie fans a poor name and lack of patience which has landed you in this position.

    - - - - - - -- - -- - - - -

    I think that the not fanciful, and living in a dream land Xavierneville is exactly what everton are. At least Newcastle have a ledge to hold onto now. You dont in the final against chelsea.

    you are also living in a dream land and punching well above its weight. Why cant you jsut let people have their moment. Martins is buzzing at the moment along with everyother newcastle player, supporter, affilate. everyone has their moments and theirs was yesterday.

    Remeber the great one said once.... there are only two teams in liverpool, Liverpool and liverpool reserves,

  • Comment number 57.

    To gilesy_v...the high risk in Shearer's strategy was not in putting Martins on, it was in taking Owen off. It took guts to remove someone with such a track record of goalscoring when Newcastle needed a goal to get the win that could keep them in the Premier League.
    That one set me up for the day, I had a right old belly laugh! Owens track record for scoring, ha ha ha ha ha please, why don't they sign up Frank Stapelton, or Ian Rush, they have great goal scoring records...I am sure it would be brave to Take Ian Rush off even if he is 50, he still has a great record. Owen is finished. Compare him to David Beckham and Gazza you get a great mix of the two, Full of potential washed up should have been a world star but has faded into insignificance. Seriously if Newcastle don't go down this season, next year they will be relegated by Febuary or March. Shearer is clueless as are most of the players who have stayed waiting for it to be turned around.

  • Comment number 58.

    Ah Yabooga!

    Nice to see you back, or maybe you never went away. What you see as outrageous others see as a geniune point of view, yes I may be a litte inflamatory and indeed passionate. But how could you fault me as those Geordies are so passionate too, and where would the blog be without a little written jousting?!

    All the reaction shows there's clearly some substance to the thoughts or why respond? Have fun and enjoy the ride, one thing I will say Everton avoided the drop on the last day in 1994 & 1998, in between winning the FA cup in 1995 I tell you beating the drop was better.......

    I'm sure you can comment when we fail in a plucky FA cup Final......

  • Comment number 59.

    Shearer brave... yeah .. what bravery to take charge of a team he "loves" yet previoulsy turned down and then take the job only when he was in a no lose situation... and only for a £2m contract for 6 games (of which he has won 1)... bravery beyond belive - give that man a St Georges Cross immediately...

    Look - i actually really like Newcastle and do have a huge soft spot for them but last night summed up everything about them that all sane football fans love and laugh at in equal measure...

    The Setanta commentary team referred to shearer as "their (Newcastle fans) God", "the messiah" and numerous other over the top religious names... no other team / manager has this billing... simply because it is bonkers and crazy - yet Newcastle fans provide the fuel for this laughable tosh...

    Then the good stuff... an aggressive up and at them attitude from a team full of quality attackers... and backed by the best and most passionate fans in football...

    Then in the after match interview... Taylor says "this is a massive club that deserves European football".... there we go... the Newcastle players themselves now "deserving European football" as they have managed to draw level on points with Hull... yes thats right - the European giants that are Hull...

    Honestly - i love the soap opera that is Newcastle and whilst i would have laughed if they had gone down i think i will get more laughs by them staying in the full beam of the premier league....

  • Comment number 60.

    To is clear I was passing comment about Shearer's bravery in a sporting context as opposed to life in general.

    On another point, what are the views of Newcastle fans on Michael Owen? Should Newcastle try to keep him or is he nearing the end of his time on Tyneside?

    How will his Newcastle career be judged if he does leave?

    It will be interesting to see what other offers Owen gets on top of the one he already has from Newcastle.

    And Boro fans - let me know your thoughts this morning after that damaging defeat. What are the key factors behind your decline?

  • Comment number 61.

    48. Yabooga

    Can you see the irony in your continued argument (from a number of NUFC blogs) that Geordies are actually balanced sensible people and then say for evidence please refer to the NUFC fans website

    can you see the irony? please say you can....

    I love NUFC because of these over the top type things... if you did a google search on similar words you would only get religious type sites back alongside the NUFC supprters site... it's not a bad thing - it is just extreme... and that is why we all love to love and laugh at Newcastle... it isn't the press telling us "it's a religion" it's you guys... and whilst its commendable it is a bit daft...

  • Comment number 62.

    Utter nonsense, Phil.

    How on earth was removing Michael Owen, who was doing absolutely nothing, for Martins "a high-risk strategy" ?!?!

    Leading your side to victory over Boro at home is the very least one would expect from a man who can supposedly walk on water. After six games in charge his record reads no better than either Kinnear or Houghton.

    Why are you fawning over a man who has been given a million quid to stand on the touchline for a month and look like he's lost his dog?

    Based on what I saw last night your argument is as wrong as it is bizarre...

  • Comment number 63.

    I've got a feeling that all could be resolved this weekend as I can't see either Newcastle, Hull or Sunderland winning their last fixture a week later. A trip to Villa park could proove to tricky for Newcastle: Sunderland entertain Chelsea and Hull play the Champions elect. With this in mind this weeks games take on massive importance. Newcastle play at home, whilst Hull have a fixture they will feel they could win at Bolton. Sunderland go to Fratton Park and could easily travel back north with nothing to show for their trouble as they look poor at the moment- this would drag them right into the mire on the last day.

    Boro and The Baggies are surely already doomed.

  • Comment number 64.


    Yes dreamland, Evertonians have been living there for the last 4 or fives years to be truthful. The difference is Evertonians know we are lucky to be so high and our relative size compared to others We also have no right from one year to the next to finish in a high position or get to cup finals.

    As for Stable, clearly we are as consistent finishes show and a manager who has stayed for seven years building something

    We even like you lot across the park for all the thanks it does us....infact your inability to land the trophy you so desperately want only makes us look even better! Learn to take the banter and not take it so to heart! I didn't think I'd be educating Kopites aswell as Geordies!!

    Remember we've not won the league since 1987 oh, so only a year or so more than you!!!

  • Comment number 65.

    ExiledJW - good post mate. Sensibly written, and honest too. Nice one.

    With regard to Phil's latest comment (#60), i think Michael Owen will be off in the summer. However, i do think he is getting a lot of unwarranted bad press from some quarters. He's still a top quality striker. He might have lost a yard of pace, but he can still be deadly infront of goal.

    I think his problem is lack of quality service. Newcastle's midfield just isn't good enough to service him properly. You stick Owen in Liverpool (Gerrard and Alonso), Arsenal (Fabregas and RVP), Man Utd (Scholes and Carrick) or Chelsea (Lampard and Ballack) and watch him score 20+ a season again. With that kind of quality servicing him, he'll be back to his best. This is not a sly dig at Newcastle here, the fact of the matter is that there's little or no creativity in their midfield, and Owen has never really been one to create his own chances.

    Personally, i'd welcome him back to Anfield with open arms. Although, if i'm honest, i'd rather we splashed the cash on David Villa! haha.

    And even if Newcastle do stay up, i think they will continue to struggle. Who will want to stay at the club after this season? Martins is a class act, and i think he'll be off. I can see a few of the others leaving too. And i think they'll struggle to attract the high quality players they need to climb back up the table.

    All the top teams have players who can produce moments of magic at the touch of a button, who can change the course of a game instantly, that sort of thing. At the moment, Newcastle are just hoping they outscore the opposition as their defence is so bad.

  • Comment number 66.

    Xavierneville i also remember you commenting on a robbo robson blog about how you didnt car who went down out of Newcastle OR boro as it would be an easy 6 points for everton either way.

    This season we drew with you twice, once when you had 2 goal lead and the other when we played for over an hour with 10 men.

    Does part of being a 'die hard evertonian' mean that you dont actually attend or even watch their games??

  • Comment number 67.

    Can't agree that the substitution was 'brave'; usual hype about Shearer - any other manager in the same situation and it would have been an act of desparation bearing in mind the necessity to win. If Martins hadn't scored and Newcastle had only drawn or even lost, then the post-match reports would have been commenting on 'a last throw of the dice to save Newcastle's season' - let's be realistic and agree with Shearer that what happened was lucky.

  • Comment number 68.

    I'm a Liverpool fan, but I must say I was glad Newcastle won last night.

    How could anyone want Middlesborough to stay in the premiership over Newcastle when you compare their support (don't usually fill the ground) against the unbelievable atmosphere created by the St James' Faithful last night?

    It was on par with Liverpool's european nights and the Glaswegans during the Auld Firm.

    In an era where top flight stadia are getting quieter and quieter due to the increasing cost of tickets causing the working class, home grown fan being replaced by the "prawn sandwich brigade", or to a greater extent, only half filling stadiums (e.g. Wigan), I think the non stop cheering and chanting last night was a great example to all fans as to what it means to be a fan and live and breath the fortunes of your team.

    I do respect Steve Gibson for his support to any manager under him, but it must be the ticket prices that are keeping the fans away- they were Uefa cup finalist a couple of years ago for God sake? May be reducing the price at the Riverside may get the loyal smoggies back in.

  • Comment number 69.

    Phil -

    I have always been someone defending Michael Owen (with extreme caution) but that has come to an end for me. There was always talk of 'well, if you give him one chance, he'll put it away' but that's not actually the case any more is it? His chance against Portsmouth was a good one. It was a terrible finish. I'm not one to go on and on about players wages - we paid him that much so he would sign and get us goals, nut he isn't worth anything like the money we pay him. He doesn't look like he will score goals again and I fail to see what positive influence he has on the team - club captain?! Madness. His sharpness is gone and we could do without him. Keegan dropped him into a deeper role and he looked more useful there. I think that Celtic look the most likely destination this summer, although it may cost him a little more in helicopter fuel if he still intends to be flown from Cheshire every day!
    In my opinion, he is a reminder, along with many others, as an example of the disgraceful mismanagement and boardroom nonsense that has plagued our club for more than a decade.

  • Comment number 70.

    I accept your rebuke ( blog 60 ) , but I believe that in the sporting world
    the word ' brave' should be used VERY sparingly.
    Mr Shearer used good judgement when making his substitutes and it paid off albiet with a bit of luck and endeavour by Martins. Pity he didn't sign up for the job when Sam was fired, he took on a ' no loose' situation and can walk if they are relegated. Can't see him cutting the mustard in the Championship, can you ?
    Middlesbrough deserved a draw in my opinion.
    Sorry to see Owen is a shadow of his former self, he looks a 60 minute player now, probably used better as a cool headed pro when the match is won ( for Newcastle not often.. ). I still believe that both teams will go down, Villa will see to that and if United have the P/L title won by Saturday afternoon, look for the FA Cup semi final team at Hull, they'll still get a draw if Hull are BRAVE !!

  • Comment number 71.

    Phil, Shearer is a plank. If you think that he is intelligent, then you must know some very stupid geniuses. Perhaps you've been hanging around footballers for too long.

    If Newcastle avoid relegation, it will have little to do with Shearer and his brave substitutions. The man is clueless.

    If Newcastle fans want their club to have a solid future then they should hope that Ashley hires a proper manager.

    Anyway, Borough and Newcastle to get relegated.

  • Comment number 72.

    Ho-hum. The preparation for Newcastle's assault on the Premiership Title next season has begun. Everything is in out Man Utd, LFC, Arsenal, Chelsea, Villa, Wolves, Accrington,......

    The Toon Army is on the march....

    Well that's what you would think!

  • Comment number 73.


    It was only banter as well my friend. Stability you do have. that is true. But dont you think that you would experience something fresh like a shearer appointment to get even more out of your team? Moyes knows what it takes to get where you are and its taken 5 years to do so. Would you be happy with going another 5 years to another final now you have tasted and smelt it.

    I think that shearer will have players belief sky high for next season to mount a europa league place. There was something about them last night that even though they beat someone below them and very poor at that they fought to the end. Never gave up and al played for each other.

  • Comment number 74.

    Xavierneville - you are certainly entitled to an opinion and fair play to you for having one. I have no issue with the players, management, board being slated especially when so much of it is deserved. I do, however, take issue with opinions that are based on press fabrication and sky sports news showing a video of 200 blanket waving charvas - if what is reported in the press was truly representative of what Newcastle fans think then I'd accept the negative comments and keep quiet. Your winding-up skills are very effective and I congratulate you.
    Incidentally, I would not post on here if Everton lost - I genuinely hope that Everton win as Moyes seems like a cracking bloke, as does Kenwright and I've had nothing but positive experiences at Goodison Park.

    Boomshakalak - ironic? Yes dear, incredibly for a blinkered Geordie I can see that - although the fanzine often uses song titles in its commentaries and the true-faith title is taken from the New Order song. 'Love to laugh at Newcastle' - very patronising with just a touch of regionalophobia (I made that word up - clever eh?)

  • Comment number 75.

    Shearer was brave enough to reject a better club in Man U to go to his home town club- the reason United fans seem to hate him so much...

  • Comment number 76.

    I think what is critical about the result is that we are no longer in free fall and have just realised that we can get out of this. It was not just our win that has done this but Hull being defeated by Stoke. Interesting how the fixtures have now turned in Newcastle's favour as we always said they would. Liverpool, Tottenham were always defeats, Stoke was a point and Pompey should have been a win. A win against Fulham is another must.

    Hull have Bolton away and MUFC at home, Sunderland have Pompey away and Chelsea at home so they must be getting nervous.

    As to Owen, well I am sure he will move somewhere and score lots of goals but for me, whatever anyone says about his past...he is a spent force and an expensive one at that. He needs to relocate his position on the park and get smart, perhaps move deeper...but not at NUFC. As to the lack of service, well I think a man of his past ability and wage bill should be delivering a lot more, if he is not being supplied then go look for it. His performances have, to put it politely, been anonymous.

  • Comment number 77.

    Re #8 Of course Newcastle will try to buy strikers and wingers in the summer- with Owen and Viduka out of contract and a complete lack of any real creativity in midfield, they'll be badly needed. The back four, while far from perfect, is probably the last area that needs urgent attention in a squad which is set for a major overhaul whatever division it finds itself in next season.

    Our defence has been mediocre- it's our defending as a team which has been very poor, with a general lack of support from creaking legs in the midfield, which is probably the weakest in the league.

    The manager and players have rightly focused on the next game and left the equal measures of hyperbole and doom-mongery to the press and blogs!

  • Comment number 78.

    How can people make up their minds about Shearer already? It's far too early to say whether he will be a good manager or not! Calling him a 'plank' though is perhaps a bit hasty, but then I presume you (ibai07) know him intimately and are therefore in a strong position to make such a constructive assessment of character.
    In terms of the decision to bring on Martins for Owen, maybe it wasn't brave, but it certainly was right. Is that not more important?
    And, it's Ashley, not Shearer that needs to be the first to go thanks very much.

  • Comment number 79.


    Absolutley Philtoon, In love with your passionate defence of your club.....oh and you find time to remeber what I post, a little obessive but I'll take any compliment I can get!

    A solid two points which may save you from the drop, no thankyou then? I think the focus needs to be were you lost points this year, I'm very happy with our haul of points, we can lend you some if you want and still stay in the top six. Please be aware if we transfer points you leave 4 working days for processing, something you may wish bear mind as the end of the season draws near.

    Yes I mosey up to Goodison or an away fixture I can get to, still not used to all these games on TV, how lucky are we? Never used to get on the box, never seem to be off it nowdays.........

    And for those who can't get to games, it dsoesn't make you any the less a die hard, see what I did there Phil?

    Keep it coming, the tradi-comedy that is NUFC and their fans is after all a little compelling

  • Comment number 80.

    There is no bravery in taking Owen off my man. Only English people cannot see that he is not teh player he once was...and I can understand that. He is obviously a hero and was the most deadly finisher around in his hey day but hey, track records dont win you trophies.

    That was what Capello said and that was what Shearer discovered for himself. Days are long gone when a Striker can just hand around the 18-yard box predator-like to score. With the advancement in defending, you need much more these need pace, power and skill in holding up the ball. You also need to work and fight for the team and harass opposition defenders.

    Owen is a fabulous footballer but his style of player just does not deliver enough results in today's game. Sad but true

  • Comment number 81.

    Phil - sorry mate add Necastle/Shearer to Liverpool and England in things you should steer clear of writing about. Are you angling for a job as Shearer's PR man.
    It is not brave to haul off a player who's last good full or even half a season is well over half a decade ago who happens to draw a wage of 100k+ a week. Good win for a poor Necastle team over a poor Boro team which would have been more comfortable without Owne.
    The number of good games he has had in the 4 years in the biggest unsuccessful club in Europe numbers no more than a dozen. I was a huge Owen fan (occasional dives aside) until 2003 as he and Beckham dug England out of holes a number of times. He looks way way past his best now - a useful punt on a Pay as you play for a season ling contract - no more.
    However Owen as a former darling of Merseyside will always get support from the Beeb pundits no matter how average or dare I say unavailable he has been ever since.

  • Comment number 82.

    Why are Newcastle so hated. We do nothing but support our team, yesterday yes we got some luck, but heck it had been a long time coming. And im sorry but we were not the only team to have luck, boro's goal anyone? The Ref was terrible, but not in the favour of newcastle like everyone seems to think. If you watched the game he let middlesbrough get away with all sorts. Obstruction, shirt pulling, deliberate tripping. The 2 disputable goals we scored were the linesman job just as much as the refs, the afore mentioned was completely the ref letting a team get away with what ever they wanted. And like i said we deserved somne luck we've had none all season. The fact is we were the better team, boro looked dangerous on the break, but they cant put the ball in the net, we did and thats all that matters. full stop. As for shearer's subs they were not brave as much as they were obvious. We had no pace, i was crying out for guttierez to come off for lovenkrands long before shearer plunged for him. And as soon as i saw martins getting ready i immediatly said owen, get him off. He was ineffectual and it was the obvious choice, not a hard or brave one at all. I just hope bolton and united actaully take their games seriously against hull, as bolton are 99% survived and united will be champions and have the champions league final 3 days later, I can see another west ham esque win (1-0 with tevez scoring to keep them up) for hull. Hopefully i am wrong.

  • Comment number 83.

    So Phil, how exactly was it "high-risk strategy" to take off Owen, who was having a shocker, and put it possibly Newcastle's best player? When was the last time Owen actually had a good match? For me it was perfectly logical substitution, no special managerial skills needed there.

    Alan Shearer tells us not to get carried away with the win, so maybe the media shouldn't either? I mean it was his first win in 6 attempts. A local derby, billed everywhere as an all-or-nothing match, backed by a vociferous home crowd, you hardly need to be Winston Churchill to motivate your players for such a game. And Boro were dreadful as usual, I think they are going to finish bottom of the table. Shearer can become a decent manager, despite hardly looking like an expert on MOTD, but this was just one win against a very poor team.

    And... "anyone who suggests he does not care does not know Michael Owen." Well Phil, most fans can only base their opinions on what they see on the pitch. What exactly has Owen done in recent months which suggests he cares? Steven Taylor may not be quite Zidane but he gives blood, sweat and tears for the club, while Owen looks more disinterested than Drogba under Scolari.

  • Comment number 84.

    Great article...but I think that we should all (England fans at least)want Michael Owen playing well again...our erstwhile Italian picks his team based on form which is great so on current performances Owen does not warrant a place at all...but we need quality strikers to support the seemingly first choice of Heskey and Rooney...who would you pick Carlton Cole or Michael Owen should one the first choice guys get injured, which is entirely likely given past experiences. I don;t think that Owen will ever flourish at Newcastle and rediscover any of his form...they play the wrong type of football...perhaps a transfer to Villa would be good...he could play off Carew or Heskey and offer alternatives to Gabby Agbonlahor...!!

  • Comment number 85.

    If those thoughtful changes were made Fergei or Wenger,people will say it is from experience hands. But here Alan made my day and put smile on my face. Let support him,he's done wonderful well. Thanks Alan.

  • Comment number 86.


    Istanbul, there is not an Evertonian alive who has lost some serious sleep over 'has Moyes taken as far he can?'

    Who can? And hard toil and honesty will get you as far as well we have come, Everton would be fools to sell to a Rocka-fella

    As a club you should never put yourself in the place Newcastle have, I'd cry if my team had been as poorly managed from the board room.......

    Do you think LFc will rollover at WBA if the title's lost???

  • Comment number 87.

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

  • Comment number 88.

    NO Xavierneville nothing to do with obsession, just clueless bloggers stand out on here like a sore thumb

  • Comment number 89.

    To have a point there. Remember how Sir Alex Ferguson's boldness and bravery was hailed when he introduced Macheda and he scored the winner against Aston Villa?

    Different type of substitution and situation here, but it still required tactical courage to make it. I, and I believe a lot of other people, would have left Owen on.

    Owen may lose the burning pace of old, but he will never lose his ability to finish - despite a hasty rush to write him off by many people here - but Shearer made the big call and it paid off.

    Lots of antipathy to both Newcastle and Shearer from posters. Why is this?

    If he keeps Newcastle up he has done the job he was brought in to do. End of story. Whether he achieves this remains to be seen.

    As for accusations of over-hyping and sycophancy towards Shearer, is it so wrong to give a manager some credit for a substitution that works? I don't think so.

    He would have attracted criticism if he had taken Owen off and Newcastle had not scored, so how about a bit of credit where it is due?

  • Comment number 90.

    Good blog.

    I watched the game last night and a few people have noted that the reason Newcastle won is because Boro were so poor. You can only beat what's put in front of you! However I do agree both teams looked poor and have done all season.

    Over the top crowd reaction? The atmosphere in the stadium looked electric last night and they'll need that again on Saturday against Fulham. I don't think Geordies are getting too carried away by enjoying this victory and certainly don't concur that it is over the top.

    I think the lucky manager quote is spot on from Shearer. Unbelievably Newcastle's fate is in their hands after a disastrous season and could remarkably be safe by Saturday evening.

    Many are questioning Shearer's managerial qualities and rightly so. This is a crash course in management. He has to learn quickly. I think the tinkering is exactly what he needs to do to get the points needed to win. He's just got his first win but lets judge him after the next two as to whether he has done a good job for the eight games in charge.

    The league table doesn't lie and over the course of 38 games, the three with the least points go down. Newcastle could arguably be one of the poorest teams in the league although I believe they will amass sufficient points to stay up aided by Southgate's poor Boro and Phil Brown's even poorer Hull.

    Whether Newcastle stay up or not, everyone in football knows there is a huge rebuilding job there. Is money there - who knows? I agree with Phil and hope that Mike Ashley learns from his mistakes and gives Shearer the right support and infrastructure to do this. I'm sure Newcastle would prefer to do this rebuilding in the Premier League rather than the Championship. When you look at the three ex-premier league teams who just went down from the Championship - it shows it's not the league a big club wants to compete in.

    To ReinaFire lets wait and judge Shearer on his transfer prowess if and when he oversees a transfer window as a Manager.

    To ReinaFire also you said Viduka played a blinder but 'looks nothing like the player he once was'... What more than a blinder and a man of the match award did you want from him last night? If he wore a Leeds or Boro shirt would that do it?

    To stickymichael you questioned who was pulling the strings at Newcastle... it was Houghton and Calderwood after Kinnear could no longer continue due to ill health, that didn't work out and now Shearer and Dowie are in charge. It was all over the news several weeks ago.

  • Comment number 91.

    Viduka was great, Martins plays with great passion and Lovenkrands is playing like a lad with something to prove. Owen on the other hand is playing like a lazy, old waste of space. Sooner we get rid of him the better if you ask me.

    There is no argument in the world that could possibly justify Owen's wages for what little he delivers on the pitch. No heart, no passion, no ability without someone putting it on a plate for him (and even then he's been sending those chances skywards over the past 5 or so games.)

    Also, gotta agree with #85. I think Shearer just has an instinct about football. He's shown that during his career on the pitch... is it too much to think that perhaps he'll have something close to it in management? He didn't poke a finger blindly at a piece of paper and make the decision that luck decided. He thought what he wanted to do, and it paid off. So give credit to the man for making the right choice and less of this luck or fortune favours the brave nonsense. The boy done good!!! Well done Alan!

  • Comment number 92.

    Remember how Sir Alex Ferguson's boldness and bravery was hailed when he introduced Macheda and he scored the winner against Aston Villa?


    There's a difference between bringing on an experienced quality striker ie Martins (the obvious choice) and bringing on an unknown teenager who no-one but United fans had even heard of before the game started. Owen was having a terrible game and while it was a good decision to bring him off it was hardly "brave" or "bold" as you so put it, when you need a goal it's surely logical to bring on a striker as good as Martins for a player having a shocker.

  • Comment number 93.

    Here we go again. I knew your post would be coming soon. All this analysis and credit to Owen and Shearer based on one match, that too against such a weak side. You could have reserved your judgement till we see whether Newcastle remains in the division or not. Shearer did a good job but we could do without hailing him so much. He is still very very early in the test as a manager. I hope he does well but Phil please stop posting your analysis after just one match. There are lot of ifs and buts to make a good analysis because it is still one match.

  • Comment number 94.

    I agree with Boils; For a chief football writer, you don't know what a superlative is and you have a bizarre use of question marks.... oh well ;)

    Newcastle have got good players and maybe next season will be a fresh start for the toons...

  • Comment number 95.

    all this romantic nonesense about newcastle and the toon army..."They came from far and wide, one banner was emblazoned "Toon Army Poland", almost in the manner of those gathering at the bedside of an ailing relative, waiting to discover which way it will go"....outside of newcastle who gives a toss if they stay up or go down ?? and as for shearer talk about 4 yr contracts etc get real i could organize a team to beat's not even funny!

  • Comment number 96.

    I can't help but feel that relegation will be a blessing in disguise for most at Boro, I sincerely hope that Gibson sticks with Southgate, as well as most of the youngsters, there is a decent amount of talent knocking about at the club and it has looked brow-beaten and defeated for most of the season, these kids (and their manager) need to get the winning feeling back.

    Downing needs to stop being a big fish in a small pond, he needs to be at a club that will make him work for a place in the team for once, a move would also give Johnson a chance to start in his natural position. Alves needs confidence and there are a fair few defences in the championship who could oblige him. Emnes, Bates, Wheater, Turnbull et al have some potential and a chance to gain experience as a winning team would do them the world of good. They all know each other and that is a huge advantage over clubs that have recently gone down, made changes and ended up in trouble with piecemeal sides.

    Trim the fat and enjoy yourselves, its not the end of the world.

  • Comment number 97.

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

  • Comment number 98.

    Mark Viduka was sublime last night, he is gonna be the main man for Newcastle for the run-in.

    What on earth has happened to Michael Owen!? It was only last night that I realised just how bad he has become. No pace, bad touch, poor finishing. He simply looks finished.

    Surely this will be the biggest club he ever plays for again and wouldn't it be fair to say his England career is well and truly over?

    An amazing example of someone that started at such a blistering pace at such a young age and has simply been burnt out by it all.

  • Comment number 99.

    Why are some posters suggesting if that Newcastle do stay up it will be through luck, surely if they get more points than the the relegated teams it would be because they won more games than the others, simple really.

  • Comment number 100.




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