Budgets will decide future for Shearer

Caretaker manager to make decision next week in talks with owner Ashley

Next Tuesday has emerged as the beginning of a 48-hour period that should define whether Alan Shearer is asked by owner Mike Ashley to become manager of Newcastle United on a permanent basis. Talks between the two men, and with managing director Derek Llambias, have been planned to begin then, although all three have been involved in ongoing discussions throughout Shearer's eight-game contract.

Shearer's commitment to Newcastle is not in question – and he has postponed his summer holiday – but his ability to perform the sort of transformation required at St James' Park is heavily dependent on finance. Ashley has questions to answer from Shearer on budgets even if Newcastle survive.

Should Sunday be successful only for Shearer to be told that he has to sell to buy, then it is doubtful he will stay. Ashley, moreover, has a question to answer about the longer term. Shearer wants stability: constant speculation about takeovers needs to end.

Contractually Shearer's remit ends on Sunday at Aston Villa but his instinct is long-term and it seems unlikely that Ashley would remove Dennis Wise to facilitate Shearer's arrival, then allow Shearer to dispense with the club doctor weeks into the job if Ashley's thinking was not similar. There is evidence of long-termism, just no statement of it.

The embryonic relationship between the two is cordial. "I'd only met him a couple of times from the outside, so didn't really know him that much, only to say hello to," Shearer said of Ashley last week.

"Obviously I've had more dealings with him in the past few weeks but everything's been done as I asked, and as he asked. There hasn't been a tremendous amount of dialogue, all that's been going on is how we can try to improve things on the pitch."

Shearer was also asked about Sebastien Bassong's contract and his reply was: "My advice would be to get him on a long-term contract. He's a big player." Bassong's ambiguous words yesterday on the future are the sort Shearer needs permanence to control. "Everybody knows that I am an ambitious boy, and playing Championship football never crossed my mind," Bassong said. "You have to have a plan for your career, and playing in the second division would be a step backward."

Uncertainty is the reason such things arise. Iain Dowie said yesterday: "I hope that whatever happens we've left Newcastle in good shape. I've thoroughly enjoyed my time here," Dowie added, "and I don't think we've seen many bad performances. We've just not been able to put the ball in the net."

That failure provides a dilemma for Dowie and Shearer at Villa Park. Given that Newcastle have one clean sheet in their last 11 matches, they probably will need to score against Villa, but Bassong's dismissal against Fulham last week was dreadfully timed and defensive fragility is also high on Newcastle's agenda.

"If we play an expansive game, we could get torn apart," Dowie said of Sunday. "They have got midfielders who have pace and skill, and Ashley Young will be a handful. They've pace and power and they're not up there [in the table] by accident."

Considering Newcastle are likely to be employing makeshift full-backs – Ryan Taylor or Geremi on the right, Damien Duff on the left – that Ashley Young is a Villa doubt is one piece of good news.

Drop zone: News from the basement battle

Sbragia hoping to cash in on Blues distraction

Sunderland manager Ricky Sbragia is looking forward to Sunday's visit of FA Cup finalists Chelsea. "We've got to go out and be braver, hope Chelsea have a bad game and that they have the Cup final on their minds," Sbragia said. In London the Chelsea manager Guus Hiddink scotched that idea. "I don't want to rest a lot of people because they need to maintain their physical shape and also the way we want them to play," Hiddink said.

Hull fight back in row over United line-up

Hull City's chairman Paul Duffen has spoken out about the furore surrounding Manchester United's possible line-up at the KC stadium on Sunday. "From our perspective I'm just delighted our rivals are more focused on our opposition than their own," Duffen said. "We're happy, we know what we have to do. Whatever team United put out it is going to be a very tough ask for us. Even if they put youngsters out they could still field 11 internationals."

Downing faces three months on sidelines

Middlesbrough assistant manager Malcolm Crosby yesterday confirmed that Stewart Downing will be out for two or three months as he requires foot surgery. Boro will also have been frustrated by Adam Johnson's apparent rejection of a new contract and by comments from the Birmingham manager, Alex McLeish, on David Wheater. "He is a decent player and someone we have watched over the last five weeks," said McLeish.

election 2015The 10 best quotes of the campaign
A caravan being used as a polling station in Ford near Salisbury, during the 2010 election
election 2015The Independent's guide to get you through polling day
David Blunkett joins the Labour candidate for Redcar Anna Turley on a campaigning visit last month
voicesWhat I learnt from my years in government, by the former Home Secretary David Blunkett
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

Crisp sales are in decline

As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'