'Striker will be in charge'

Chris Waddle, the former Newcastle United winger, suggested yesterday that the sacking of Sir Bobby Robson as the club's manager may have been engineered by the team's veteran striker Alan Shearer.

Chris Waddle, the former Newcastle United winger, suggested yesterday that the sacking of Sir Bobby Robson as the club's manager may have been engineered by the team's veteran striker Alan Shearer.

"Shearer will be in charge for the next game," Waddle predicted. "He may even retire from playing before the end of the season, put on a suit and take his place in the dug-out."

Waddle thought that Robson's departure may have been part of a grand plan that would involve Shearer moving to management and Wayne Rooney being bought. "Maybe Shearer said to the chairman that he'll hang his boots up but wants Wayne Rooney to replace him. That could have been part of the deal," Waddle said.

The former Newcastle defender Frank Clark criticised the "ridiculous scenario where a manager is being sacked before the season has run a month". Clark, vice-chairman of the League Managers Association, said Robson's record marks him out as one of the finest managers in British football. "Bobby made Ipswich able to compete with the big clubs then did a terrific job with England," he said. "England has a problem where we don't appreciate our own and there was an element of downsizing his ability and achievements when he left England. But he went abroad and proved a great success."

Steve Cole, of the Newcastle United Supporters Club believes the 71-year-old had lost the confidence of the players and fans. "The club will get on with it," he said. "It is not the first time we have had a shock change in management. Kevin Keegan left very suddenly and Ruud Gullit left very suddenly. The fans have got used to it."

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