Shearer steps in to rescue Newcastle

Tyneside hero answers Ashley's SOS to take charge until end of season

Alan Shearer is to take charge at Newcastle United for the last eight games of the season after the owner Mike Ashley last night performed a last-ditch about-turn to stave off what would be the financial meltdown of a relegation from the Premier League. Sensational is overused in football as a description but this development is sensational.

There was no official comment from either party, which served to heighten the frenzy on Tyneside as last evening unfolded, but Shearer confirmed to friends that the explosive rumour was based in fact. The club are expected to make an announcement this morning and Shearer will then take his first training session tomorrow. Shearer has his A and B coaching badges, and there should be no complaints over his temporary appointment. The BBC's Match of the Day may be keen to hear from him though.

Those close to Shearer agreed that it would represent not just a gamble by both, but also an enormous U-turn by Ashley in his attitude towards the club's legendary striker. Despite Shearer's status at St James' Park, Ashley has barely exchanged a word with Shearer since first buying shares in the club in May 2007.

In turn, Shearer will be risking some of his reputation, but the 38-year-old former England captain is unlikely to have agreed to any such situation unless it is on his terms, and strongly on his terms. It is inconceivable that Shearer has not been offered managerial positions since his rertirement from playing. The initial deal may be for eight matches, but Shearer is likely to be thinking in the longer term; he will want the authority to turn the club upside down and inside out – should Newcastle stay up. That, of course, is what Kevin Keegan hoped he would be allowed to do. Keegan was not provided with the power to do that but Newcastle are in dire trouble at the foot of the Premier League and Shearer's hand is strong.

Newcastle have these eight games to save themselves, beginning at home to Chelsea on Saturday. At least one of the players signed in January had no relegation clause inserted into his contract even at that stage. In such circumstances, Ashley knew that his investment, already devalued by a tumultuous season and the credit crunch, would be near to being wiped out.

Shearer is set to be unveiled tomorrow and will in the first instance cause an uplift in the stands. However, whether Shearer can motivate an average playing staff to beat Chelsea is another matter, though Newcastle will go to the match at Stoke City the following Saturday with far greater conviction than now. After that home games against Portsmouth, Middlesbrough and Fulham look much more inviting than they did yesterday morning.

It was the latest amazing twist in a season that began with a 1-1 draw at Manchester United with Keegan in charge, and which has morphed into a blur of fan rebellion, acrimony and consternation in the case of Joe Kinnear's appointment.

What Shearer's arrival would mean for Kinnear is unknown but the 62-year-old, recuperating from a heart bypass operation, said on Monday that he will listen to medical advice if it says that he is not physically capable of returning to the dugout. Kinnear hinted at a director of football role and that implied that Dennis Wise would be leaving the club this summer. Shearer's appointment would surely hasten that.

Shearer's first task will be widely seen as restoring Michael Owen to the team and to the scoresheet, yet Shearer may wish to concentrate on a defence that is much less reliable than the one he joined at St James' in 1996, when he became the world's most expensive player. Newcastle have long be ridiculed for their defensive frailty but this season injuries have compounded a haphazard recruitment policy to leave the team weaker at the back than ever.

Shearer has been derided in certain quarters for "sitting on a sofa" but he took a major risk when he left Blackburn for Newcastle as a player – and not Old Trafford – and now he is taking another. How Newcastle could do with him on the pitch.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'