Yes we’re back to Newcastle United again ladies and gents, after ripping apart the reign of Joe Kinnear in one of my earlier columns and highlighting the disaster that was John Carver. In fairness Newcastle United have had so many bad managers that we could probably cycle through most of their managers not named Bobby Robson and poke fun at all of them but we will start today with a man who was, and really still is, a god on Tyneside and that is the man, the myth, the legend Alan Shearer. Newcastle fans worship of Shearer is almost unparalleled in world football. Perhaps Brazilian’s worship of Pele or my worship of David Nugent are the only things that come close. So when Joe Kinnear left in 2009 and caretaker Chris Hughton was not doing much better Shearer was brought in to save the day as he had so often done playing up front.
Since his retirement in 2006 Shearer had spent most of his time stinking up Match of the Day. While a pretty decent pundit now he simply was not very good back then and had always expected to go into management regardless. Shearer was appointed on 1st April 2009 (appropriately) and it became quickly apparent that the dressing room was in absolute turmoil. Everyone was low on confidence, a number of players weren’t even trying and the natural ability was just there. Surely though if someone could inspire this ragtag group to avoid relegation it would be Newcastle God Alan Shearer.
Well the results were not pretty. A 2-0 loss to Chelsea kicked off Shearer’s reign and this was followed up with draws against Portsmouth (remember when they were in the Premier League?) and Stoke plus a loss to Spurs too. With four games to go the Toon were in dire, dire straights. They needed a result away at Liverpool so Shearer made the bold decision to bring back the ever-reliable Joey Barton from the cold. A 3-0 loss and a sending off later Shearer was absolutely fuming in his post-match interview and reportedly in the dressing room too. It was now looking likely that Newcastle were heading to the Championship.
A 3-1 home win against Middlesbrough offered some reprieve although it is important to remember that Middlesbrough would get relegated that season and had Afonso Alves up front, so does this win even count? This meant that Newcastle got out of the relegation zone and just needed to hold their nerve for the final two games. A home loss to Fulham was nothing but an absolute calamity meaning it all came down to the final game: Aston Villa away. After yet another poor performance Newcastle lost 1-0 and were relegated while Sunderland stayed up.
Shearer was reportedly offered to stay after the season but this deal was pulled off the table and Chris Hughton was given the job for 2009/10. Big Al tried his best but a lethal combination of inexperience, an awful squad and a terrible starting position meant he never stood a chance. This has really only tainted Shearer’s legacy somewhat; he is still a gob but imagine how worshiped he would be if the Toon had stayed up?