Shearer bemoans Newcastle's lack of cutting edge

With more than 200 goals, Alan Shearer never had a problem finding the net for hometown club Newcastle. As its manager he has so far been unable to capture a victory, and two draws from his first four games in charge is adding up to relegation form.

At 18th in the standings, Newcastle dropped two more points in a 0-0 draw at home to Portsmouth last night with Shearer fielding three top quality strikers — Michael Owen, Mark Viduka and Obafemi Martins — and still unable to find the net.

The team has scored only one goal in four games since he took over and that's a poor record for a man who broke Premier League goalscoring records as a player.

"Confidence in football is huge and, at the minute, the team aren't winning matches," Shearer said after the draw with Portsmouth put even more pressure on him. "You get into a habit and, at the minute, it's proving very difficult to win games, it's proving difficult to score goals."

With an away game at Liverpool to come on Sunday, it looks almost certain that the winless run will stretch to five with only three games left and that sort of form suggests that the club will go down for the first time since 1989.

"I would dearly love to think we could go there and get something," said the former England captain who is in his first job as a manager. "We will be trying to do that, but I really don't know, I can't tell you. I don't know what is going to be enough to stay up."

One of Newcastle's most popular stars, Shearer has been linked with the job ever since he quit playing three years ago. But he stayed away to concentrate on his job as a football analyst with the BBC, a role he enjoyed.

When he decided to take the job until the end of the season, taking over on 1 April, Newcastle fans hoped that his return would turn the team around and save the Magpies from relegation.

So far, it hasn't worked and Newcastle, who havn't won the league title since 1927 or any major competition since the 1969 European Fairs Cup, are three points off the safety zone — a worse position than when he took over.

"We are relying on other people," he said. "It's going to be a tense end to the season, we all know that. The way the season has gone tells us that this year.

"We have got to make sure we are still in there fighting come the second last, come the last game of the season. We have got to make sure we are in there fighting."

The fans hoped that Shearer's goalscoring skills — a Premier League record 260 goals as well as 30 in 63 matches for England — would rub off on Newcastle's current strikers, all of them big names with good scoring records.

"It's ironic, really, the three players that I wanted up there all had one very good chance each and you would expect at least one of those to go in," said Shearer, whose total of Premier League goals is 73 more than next best Andy Cole.

"The chances were there. On another night, one goes in."

After the visit to Anfield, Newcastle hosts one of the only two teams below — neighbor Middlesbrough — but then has two tough games against Fulham and Aston Villa, both current in the top seven.

With three points to make up on Hull, Newcastle needs to beat Middlesbrough and get some points against Fulham and Villa and even that may not be enough.

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