Thursday 2 April ~
The hordes are getting ready to descend. Later today Alan Shearer will be unveiled as Newcastle manager in a ceremony choreographed by Sky Sports News. This will be attended by thousands, some of whom may even be wearing shirts. But another horde, of a very different kind, has already made its presence known in this morning's press. A motley collection of characters from Newcastle's past are trying very hard to convince us that Shearer as manager is going to be a huge success. Kevin Keegan will be ruefully poring over his legal proceedings against Mike Ashley, mindful that he is no longer a participant in the ultimate Geordie story.
Newcastle have used up potential saviours at a quicker rate than ever before this season having now made four managerial appointments. Shearer is the final option. Not that you would know it from the overwhelmingly positive reaction. Chris Waddle, never noted for incisive comment, managed to contradict himself completely. While pointing out Shearer's complete lack of managerial experience he dismissed that with the theory he sees plenty of football as a pundit and that "the biggest plus is he knows the club inside out... when not working, he watches them all the time... he knows what the punters want and has a pretty good idea of how to give it to them". But Chris, as you've just said, he doesn't know how to give it to them – he just watches a lot of football. Alan Hansen believes he has "all the attributes to make a top-class manager" and Jamie Redknapp claims "Shearer should have been Newcastle manager more than a year ago". Jamie doesn't really elaborate on quite why.
Before he had even taken a training session there were calls for Shearer to be given the job on a full-time basis. Ex-Newcastle chairmen, quick to criticise Mike Ashley despite their own dubious records, were just as eager to talk up Shearer. John Hall would "prefer him to be long-term boss" while Freddy Shepherd was typically forthright: “There’s no doubt about it, Alan Shearer is the right guy for the job. If you want someone to lead you in a relegation fight, you couldn’t pick anyone better than Alan. He’s a leader and an inspirational figure. He’s the man you want in the trenches." It is Shearer's perceived leadership qualities that have convinced many that Newcastle will avoid Championship football next year. Such as Henry Winter in the Telegraph: "Rallying calls will get Newcastle out of the relegation scrap. Such tactics may not work elsewhere but emotion has always been the fuel for the Geordie rocket."
So another new dawn has arrived over Newcastle and the "Cockney Mafia" has been vanquished from the north-east. Perhaps the final word should go to another famous Geordie, Paul Gascoigne: “To take on the manager’s job at Newcastle you’ve got to be a brave man, but Alan’s blood is black and white and he’ll be telling the players that. He’ll be loving it." This is precisely the problem that no one else seems to be mentioning. Quite why Jonas Gutierrez or Jose Enrique will care about anyone's "black and white blood" or raise their game as a response is unclear. The presence of Alan Shearer might mean Newcastle eke out enough points from a difficult last eight games to keep the club in the Premier League. On other hand it might well not be enough.