Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Al to play for

With confirmation that it's not an elaborate April Fool's joke, we can now digest the news that our fourth manager this season will be a sheet metal worker's son from Gosforth.

Whilst in the most part the news has been well received on Tyneside, a look at the league table is enough to wake anyone from a dream-like state, and with only eight games to go I think we probably need to win at least four of them to stay up. Shearer himself is under no illusions, stating that "It will be one hell of a battle. It will be one hell of a fight."

Shearer is astute enough to know that there is a risk in taking over the club, and that risk is that he might end up presiding over our relegation.

However, he's equally savvy enough to see the amazing opportunity that lies before him. When Fat Sam was sacked, Shearer openly expressed an interest in the job, and had his fingers burnt when Ashley and Mort ruled him out due to a lack of managerial experience, and instead opted to bring back Keegan.

Since then the manager's office might as well have had a revolving door installed, while Shearer has remained on the 'Match Of The Day' sofa, and, though reportedly working towards his Pro Licence, has not added any managerial experience to his CV.

However, the job on offer looks to be marginally less appetising than previously, and Ashley is presumably astute enough to realise that if he wants to get everyone pulling in the same direction he needs to get someone in who will galvanise the entire city. With Keegan already on the scrap heap, Shearer is the only option open to him.

If Shearer can keep us up - and the bounce normally associated with new managers, plus the general buzz which has already been stirred in Newcastle might just be enough to ensure that happens - then the he'll be able to sit down in May and have a proper conversation with Ashley about how to move the club forward.

With Shearer at the helm, the odds of Nicky Butt's recent comments coming true look a lot more likely, and we should hopefully look a lot more attractive to any player thinking of coming to the club.

Similarly, when Keegan went, Shearer was incredibly scathing about the way in which the club was being run, and the involvement of the poisoned dwarf in our transfer activity. However, that situation looks to be changing, with repeated reports in the press that the dwarf will be off in the summer.

If we do go down, Shearer can point to the fact that the damage had been done long before he took charge, and may be given the chance to guide us back up to the Premiership, or leave with his reputation still relatively intact. If we stay up, then not only will his reputation have been enhanced, but it seems impossible that Ashley could risk letting another fans' favourite depart given the wrath he faced after the complete mismanagement of Keegan's departure.

Shearer now holds most of the cards. If he plays his hand well, and keeps us up, then he'll be sitting pretty for a while yet, and the timing which saw him notch over 200 goals for Newcastle will once again be proven to be immaculate.


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