'Perfect' Shearer fits Newcastle bill

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The Independent Football

Alan Shearer's permanent appointment as manager of Newcastle United moved a step closer yesterday when he met the owner Mike Ashley for contract talks at the club's training ground. Those negotiations were ongoing last night but the managing director Derek Llambias's comments beforehand that Shearer would be "the perfect appointment – we want him to be the manager 110 per cent," was the first time something of that strength had been said in public.

For Shearer that was an encouraging backdrop to the start of discussions he knows must yield him the power and finance to dismantle the current squad and construct a team that can achieve promotion from the Championship at the first attempt.

Shearer has also been able to assess the club's infrastructure in his eight weeks in the job and has been unimpressed on several fronts. The club doctor was removed from his job soon after Shearer's arrival and the interim manager spoke last week of a scouting network that still allows promising players from the region to escape "or join Sunderland or Middlesbrough".

Previously Newcastle had been guarded on the subject of permanency because the previous manager Joe Kinnear's contract ran until the end of the season, but that has contributed to some uncertainty over Ashley's attitude. Yesterday Llambias was glowing, though. "He's very good at what he does, and he's a straight talking guy – we like that," he said of Shearer. "He'd be the perfect appointment. Talks will start today, and we're going to review the situation. We are trying to sort something, and we'll give the public information as soon as possible. Alan has put a lot of work into the job at Newcastle, and we're talking to him."

Shearer has already begun planning for next season and has warned of Newcastle's "scalp" status in the Championship as a team others will want to beat. While he needs to lose many players from the squad, there are others he regards as indispensable. Defensively Steven Taylor and Habib Beye are two of those and Beye stated yesterday he intends to stay next season. "I'm in – I'm a Newcastle player," Beye said. "I'm under contract, and I will be here next year to put this club back in the Premier League."

Peter Lovenkrands is not expecting to remain, according to his agent, but on a comparatively upbeat day for Newcastle fans there was also speculation in Spain that Seville are interested in Fabricio Coloccini.