Newcastle fans demand Shearer appointment

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The Independent Football

Newcastle fans have urged Mike Ashley to appoint Alan Shearer as manager as he attempts to offload the club for £100m.

The sportswear magnate today confirmed that is the knock-down price at which he is trying to sell the Magpies in a statement which left long-suffering supporters furious once again.

Issued via the club's website, it invited interested parties to e-mail the club or contact Keith Harris, chairman of the investment bank Seymour Pierce, who has been engaged again to try to find a buyer.

It read: "The Board of Newcastle United can today confirm that the club is for sale at the price of £100m.

"Interested parties should contact Newcastle United at (or Keith Harris at Seymour Pierce) for further details.

"The club will not be making any further comment at the present time."

Just how many interested parties will e-mail the club remains to be seen, although they seem likely to receive far more messages from their own disgruntled supporters and their Sunderland rivals, which may make for less pleasant reading.

Mark Jensen, editor of fanzine The Mag, was dismissive in his assessment of the move, and called on Ashley to install Shearer as manager and allow him to set about the process of rebuilding the squad before it is too late.

He said: "They would have been better off putting on something saying, 'We are clueless', that's literally what it amounts to.

"It just reflects the urgent need for leadership at the club both on and off the pitch.

"It's clear that on the pitch, the leadership can be given by Alan Shearer in terms of sorting out the football side of things.

"With Alan Shearer in charge, it would not be just about what he can do as a manager, but he can be a person everybody can rally behind and start to rebuild the club.

"The sharp end of things is that there are only three weeks until the players are back for pre-season training, and the season starts on August 8.

"It would be urgent in any other circumstances, but with the predicament we find ourselves in, every day that goes by, as Alan Shearer has said himself, targets are missed and all the rest of it.

"The especially frustrating thing is that if Alan Shearer was not an option, it would be a totally different situation.

"But he is there ready and waiting, he wants to do the job and there's a chance to start to put things right which is just not being taken.

"After all the terrible decisions Ashley has taken, he is not willing to take one that could get the work started."

Jensen's views have popular support on Tyneside, but as Shearer returned from a short break in Portugal today, the club he loves was still in a state of limbo.

Lengthy talks between the 38-year-old, Ashley and, more recently, managing director Derek Llambias have failed to reach any meaningful conclusion, and the owner's announcement that he wants to sell - he took the club back off the market in December after initially putting it up for sale three months earlier - has not helped to ease the uncertainty.

Harris, who spent the autumn last year looking in vain for potential purchasers, indicated yesterday that there is genuine interest, and hinted that some of them might be used closer to home despite his trip to the Middle East last week.

In the meantime, it is understood there are no further talks planned with Shearer, who was linked with both West Brom and former club Southampton over the weekend.

Shearer's former team-mate Rob Lee told the Evening Chronicle: "I look around and if it isn't Alan, I can't see who they will appoint.

"Newcastle are in trouble without him. To get the fans back onside and through the turnstiles will be hard.

"I think Alan is the only man to do that. They will support him and love to have him in charge.

"It will be a much better club with him at the helm than anybody else. But the longer it goes on, the harder it is going to be."

Lee's words seem particularly relevant with season ticket renewal notices due to go out this week, the response to which will give a graphic illustration of any backlash.