Thursday, April 27, 2006

View From The Away End

So much for my ramblings. What have opposition fans made of Alan Shearer and his career, both with us and elsewhere? We asked Danny of Bitter And Blue, Cameron of A Town Called Malice, Swiss Toni of, yes, Cheer Up Alan Shearer, Simon of West Ham Utd Blog and Pete of Round And White for their views.

Danny: “Perhaps it is inevitable with the British press that in the days after his retirement the question Alan Shearer faced most often was still: ‘Do you regret signing for Newcastle’?

It is the question that has been thrown at Shearer whenever Newcastle endured another trophy-less season and is set to continue long into his retirement.

To his credit, Shearer has not shied away from the question this week and has been unequivocal in the fact that ‘he lived the dream’ and that meant more to him than a drawerful of medals to look back on.

He retires as one of England’s all time scorers; the all-time Newcastle scoring record and a tally of Premiership goals that may never be surpassed.

It is easy to take for granted just how good Shearer was – clearly he is the best striker the Premiership has seen so far and may turn out to be the best of this generation.

He did irk many people though – his selfishness did not endear him to some and his play bordered on the legitimate at times which made him a target for fans.

I think looking back on his career Shearer has achieved everything he ever wanted to – and ultimately I think that is why he can honestly say he has ‘no regrets’ about anything in his career.

Cameron: “Alan Shearer was the personification of the old-fashioned British target man, big, strong and with the casual knack of leaving defenders on their arses.

Shearer has always been like that, but in his last couples of seasons at Newcastle he became the archetype of the role. One too many injuries forced Shearer to change his approach, and in the last few seasons, seeing Big Al in any other position bar back to goal has been about as likely as a Sunderland win.

I remember a time though, when Shearer first signed for Blackburn, that not only was he strong, but he was nubile and had pace too. On his home debut at Ewood, he picked up the ball around the halfway line; absolutely burst into Arsenal’s half with a gallop, before unleashing an unswayable rocket into the back of the net from about 30 yards out. I might be sensationalising here, 1992 was a long time ago, but then what about all the Shearer goals since that words simply don’t do justice?

What Shearer never lost was his eye for goal, and however his approach in matches might have changed they still kept coming. It’s a shame he won nothing at Newcastle, because I admire and empathise with the reasons he left my club. If he’d have signed for Manchester United, that would have been it, I’d have lost all respect.

Some Rovers fans resented that he left us, regardless of the fact he was going back to his boyhood club, and never stopped letting him know about it. But when Shearer was substituted on his last appearance at Ewood Park last September, despite compounding our woes that day by scoring to add to a 3-0 defeat, every single person in the stadium rose to applaud him.

How could we not show appreciation for a man who helped our little club to the Premiership title? My abiding memory of Alan Shearer, will always be with that trophy aloft, something I’m sure Newcastle fans were always dreaming of seeing too.

Big Al… loyal, dedicated and hard as nails. They don’t make them like that now do they?”

Swiss Toni: “Alan Shearer has got to be one of the greatest strikers ever to play the game. He has certainly been one of the most effective. His record of 341 goals in 651 appearances at a ratio of 0.52 goals per game more or less speaks for itself. In fact, I’d say that he’s been almost as good as Steve Bull (306 goals in 561 appearances at a ratio of 0.55 goals per game).


Simon: “I don’t like to try and speak on behalf of all West Ham fans, I just speak as one of them, but I think the Premiership will be a poorer place without Shearer. In fact, I can’t believe the amount of people crawling out of closets to have a go at him. What Shearer represents to me is the one of the last of the Roy of the Rovers type strikers that English football has bred over time. Good old-fashioned, tough centre forward capable of scoring all types of goals.

My best memory of him is the goal against Holland in Euro 96, after Sheringham dummied and he emphatically tucked it in. Everyone remembers where they were when that happened. Fortunately, Rooney looks set to take Alan’s place in the modern football legends’ handbook, but for scoring goals when it mattered and conducting himself with dignity off the field, I’ll miss Alan Shearer. Just don’t try and buy Dean Ashton to replace him, he’s ours!”

Pete: “So long Super Al. It's been nice knowing you. Well, sort of. I've always admired Alan Shearer for his ability, but never really warmed to him as a player. He's scored some stunning goals, but the only one that gives me goosebumps, ten years on, was his second against Holland in Euro 96 and even that was more to do with the occasion rather than person.

The best striker the Premiership's seen? Very possibly. No matter what team he's played for he's always been consistent, a goal machine if you like, but I've never had much affection for him, even when he's played for England. He's a good… no, excellent finisher, but even as a Spurs fan (there, I've said it), unlike Andy Gray I enjoy watching Henry more than Al. Ok, perhaps that's an unfair comparison, as they play two different styles of football. I can't really think of a solid reason why his retirement doesn't really bother me, but it doesn't. Perhaps if he had achieved more for England I'd think differently.

He'll no doubt be missed by Newcastle fans, but as a neutral I'll always wonder what might have happened if he had moved to a different club. In a parallel universe somewhere, is Al playing for Man United and has he led them to a second successive Champions League win?

Quite what will happen at St. James’ Park next is anyone's guess. Will anyone step into Al's shoes? Well, with a bit of luck Owen will be fit again for the start of the new season, but I can't really see him replacing Shearer as a Newcastle icon, unless he starts scoring goals in really important games, ie FA Cup finals, title deciders, Europe, etc. I'll leave it to the Newcastle fans to discuss the likelihood of that.

* * * * *

Well, I’m glad you seem to be confident we’re going to hang on to Owen in the summer, Pete…

Thanks to Danny, Cameron, Swiss Toni, Simon and Pete for their thoughts.


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