Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Is Alan Shearer the April fool for taking the Newcastle job?

Cantona joining City, monster trucks a Gigg Lane and a worldwide shortage of tea were just a few of the April fools banded about the Internet this morning. Aware of the date as I awoke my suspicions were on alert as soon as I turned on the TV.

Shearer to Newcastle? At some point yes, but now? At this stage of the season? On this very day? Surely not??

But a quick check (and the passing of the clocks to midday) showed that this was no wind-up (it would have been a harsh one on the Geordies if it was) and the 'messiah' mk II is finally in the hotseat he was destined to occupy ever since he signed on the dotted line as player in 1996.

I respected Shearer for biding his time before taking the plunge into management. He has consistently resisted any approaches, be it from Newcastle, Southampton or England. Choosing instead to work towards his coaching badges and earn large amounts of cash doing very little on Match Of The Day.

It is perhaps no surprise he hasn't taken the Newcastle job until now, the club has been in a state of crisis for years, witht the events of this season making them a national joke.

Aware that his reputation could be tarnished by the acts of others in the St James' Park boardroom, you got the impression he was waiting for things to settle down before finally taking the plunge.

But he has taken everyone by surprise by taking the job now, with just eight games to save the club - a sign of how desperate they have become.

It is not too far fetched to suggest that Newcastle could struggle to return to the Premier League should they go down this year, just ask Leeds.

It is a final throw of the dice by Ashley, it could take just a brief 'honeymoon period' of a few wins to drag the club out of trouble before a major clear out in the summer. It is clear the the players need some sort of lift to get them through the dying embers of the campaign. As Arsenal closed out a easy win last time out, the stench of relegation was palpable around the rapidly emptying St James' Park terraces.

The problem is that the run-in is one of the toughest out of the relegation haunted clubs. Liverpool, Chelsea, Villa and Tottenham all await. As well as your classic relegation six-pointers against Stoke, Middlesbrough and Portsmouth.

If they survive, Shearer will be even more of a hero than he already is (if that's humanly possible!) Fail, and the consequences could be catastrophic.

Shearer himself will be shielded from the blame - the wrath of the fans will be directed to Mike Ashley and Dennis Wise, perhaps unfairly as it has taken years of mismanagement to get the club to this stage.

But amongst all the shouting and backbiting, there will be a club with a battered soul, perched uncomfortably on the edge of a financial precipice.

Shearer has consistantly delivered when it matters throughout his career, be it for club or country. If ever it was time for him to deliver one more time, it is now.

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