Shearer’s shadow looms large over Newcastle United managers

This article was written by former Manchester United defender Gary Pallister and first published on

Since this article was written, Kevin Keegan has been appointed as Newcastle United manager.

As a fan of Sam Allardyce, I was disappointed not to see him given more time to turn things around at Newcastle but I suppose that’s the nature of the modern game. Everyone is looking for a quick fix and time is a precious commodity.

Saying that, I was still surprised Sam was shown the door so quickly. I understand the club and the fans have high expectations but it wasn’t as if Newcastle were in relegation trouble, was it? I can why sitting midtable doesn’t exactly get the pulse racing but they weren’t in the bottom three and I thought that might have bought him a bit of breathing space.

The change of owners did not help Sam. The relationship between the manager and the chairman or owner is pivotal at a football club and the simple fact was, Sam was not Mike Ashley’s man. That put him in a difficult position from the start and with the side’s form patchy at best, he was always going to be in the firing line.

So who next for Newcastle? I believe Harry Redknapp’s a man of his word, so I think he’ll stick to his guns now and stay at Portsmouth, leaving Mark Hughes as the new favourite.

Sparky could definitely do a job at St James’. He’s shown what a good manager he is already at Blackburn, even at this relatively early stage of his career, and I think he’ll only get better over the next five or 10 years. The big question is whether he’s fancy it because of the Alan Shearer factor.

Everyone knows what the Newcastle fans think of Shearer. It’s like a love affair and they’re desperate for their favourite son to come back and save them.

The problem is, every other manager knows this and that’s got to make the job less attractive. If Sparky took the job and six months down the line they go through a sticky patch, you know the fans are going to start singing Shearer’s name in the stands. His spectre will haunt any other manager.

There’s pressure on all the Premier League managers but anyone who takes over at Newcastle who isn’t Shearer is in an almost unwinnable position. I don’t even think the Newcastle fans are particularly fickle — they’re just desperate for Shearer to manage the team.

The jury’s still out whether Shearer is interested. The feeling is that he only has to say the right things publicly and he’s a shoe-in but so far he’s been silent. But you do get the sense that one day he’ll have to take the job because the clamour for him to come home just won’t go away.

Written by Gary Pallister and first published on – a heartfelt thank you to David at 4SportSake for giving us permission to publish this article – do visit their site as they feature articles from many former sportsmen (not just football but also cricket and other sports).

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