Football: Shearer's statement of harmony

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The Independent Online
ALAN SHEARER has moved to halt talk of a rift with the Newcastle manager Ruud Gullit.

Speculation of differences between the pair has been rife ever since Shearer declined to back the Dutchman during a press conference last week.

But on the eve of the derby game with Sunderland at St James' Park, the captain denied that there is any problem and vowed to play his part in bringing an end to his side's desperate start to the season.

"All I can say is that when I went down to do a thing for AXA for the FA last Monday, it was the club that told me not to say anything - and that came from the highest level," he said.

"Because I didn't say anything, it created a bad atmosphere, but I must stress it was the club that asked me not to say anything and I abide by their wishes.

"There are no grudges as far as I'm concerned. Life goes on as normal and I'll do my best for whoever, whether it's Newcastle or whether it's England.

"That's what I'm paid to do and I'll get on with life. The club is far bigger and far better than any individual.

"I can't understand what it's all about. My relationship with the manager is strictly professional, but as far as I'm concerned, there's not a problem.

"I'm the captain of this football club and I'll go out and give 110 per cent. All I've ever wanted to do is play for this football club and I'll give 110 per cent whenever I'm asked to do so."

Sunderland arrive at St James' with their closest rivals in the midst of their worst start in 40 years, but Shearer is convinced that a united front can spur Gullit and his side on to their first victory of the season.

"It's not his fault we're in this position," he said. "It's everyone's fault, not just his, not just mine, not just the players, it's everyone connected with this football club.

"We haven't done as well as we should have done in the last month. We all have to dig deep and we all have to get ourselves out of it.

"We have to win tomorrow night and that will go a long way towards getting the negatives out of this football club.

"We need the points badly and we're not going to get those points if we don't go out and play well and don't give 100 per cent, because I'm sure Sunderland will.

"The size of this football club, when things aren't going well, it's going to cause a stir. To have gone three or four games without a win is not good enough. That's why the negatives are flying around.

"But I'm sure two or three wins will change that around, and that's what we're all aiming to do to get this football club back on track where it belongs."

Gullit's response to Shearer's comments was generally positive, although his tone was less than conciliatory. "It's time that he said something," he said. "He's the captain, that's one of his jobs."

Shearer is expected to return to the starting line-up after missing Saturday's 3-3 draw with Wimbledon through suspension, while Kieron Dyer has shaken off an ankle problem.

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