NEWCASTLE, April 2 – Newcastle record goalscorer and lifelong fan Alan Shearer has promised to do all he can to keep the club in the Premier League after being appointed as manager until the end of the season.
Shearer has been given eight games to save Newcastle from relegation after the north-east Premier League strugglers confirmed Wednesday his appointment as their fourth manager this term.
Former Newcastle striker Shearer, 38, a hero to the Magpies’ fans for his exploits on the pitch, having scored 206 goals in 404 appearances during a 10-year spell at his home town club, has long been tipped as a future manager but he could never have envisaged taking over in such difficult circumstances.
Newcastle are currently third from bottom of the Premier League, two points adrift of Blackburn, the club currently occupying the last survival spot.
Despite having no coaching experience, Shearer has been given the task of saving the club from the financially calamitous consequences of relegation and Chelsea’s visit on Saturday means he will have a tough start to his reign.
His appointment ends the caretaker spell in charge of Chris Hughton, who remains on the staff.
Hughton took over in February after Joe Kinnear was forced to take a break from managing the club because of heart surgery.
Explaining how he got the job, ex-England striker Shearer, speaking after Newcastle announced his appointment on Wednesday, told BBC Radio Five: "I got a call over the weekend off Derek Llambias (managing director) and Mike Ashley (owner) and I went round for a chat.
"They kindly asked if I would take charge for the remaining eight games and I asked for a little time to think and spoke to a few people.
"It’s a club I love and I, just like many thousands of people, desperately don’t want the club to go down and I will do everything I can to try to prevent that.
"I believe I can help it along with the players, there is a nucleus here that can get this club out of trouble. They are very good players lacking confidence and it’s up to me and the staff to get the best out of them."
Shearer, who has completed all but one of his coaching badges and is still to gain his FIFA Pro Licence, has brought in former Southampton team-mate and ex-QPR manager Iain Dowie to assist him and will hold his first training session on Thursday.
He insisted he was just concentrating on the short-term goal of securing Newcastle’s top-flight status: "This is for an eight-game spell, I’m looking no further than that," Shearer said.
"Joe Kinnear is in the job at the moment and recovering well from his operation. I’m here for eight games and eight games only and (I aim) to try to keep this team in the Premier League."
An excited Llambias said: "Everyone at Newcastle United is absolutely delighted that Alan has taken on this challenge.
"Already there is a buzz around the club and the city. The news has given everyone a massive boost."
Shearer’s appointment was confirmed by Newcastle soon after they’d announced that executive director Dennis Wise had left the club.
A member of the so-called ‘Cockney Mafia’ at St James’ Park, former Chelsea and England midfielder Wise was reviled by fans for, as they saw it, forcing out popular manager Kevin Keegan in September in a row over transfer policy.
Newcastle turned to Shearer, like Keegan once a revered Newcastle forward, as it became clear that, under Hughton, they were drifting towards disaster after a run of just one win in their last 12 league matches.