I suspect that not that many readers of this blog are very interested in Newcastle United FC, but then again I haven’t written about the club for a while. And today we have some fairly dramatic news. According to the BBC and Sky Sports, the club has appointed football legend and record Newcastle goal scorer Alan Shearer to be the manager until the end of the season. I have to confess that at first I suspected this was an April Fool’s story, but I have now seen it confirmed in several different places, so I am coming to the conclusion that it’s true (but so far unconfirmed by the club’s website).
Why does this matter? Newcastle United, having parted company last autumn in very acrimonious circumstances with the legendary Kevin Keegan, went into free fall, and right now is in the ‘relegation zone’ of the Premier League; in other words, unless fortunes change, the club will be out of the premiership in the next season. This has happened under two separate caretaker managers, ex-Wimbledon Joe Kinnear (who actually didn’t do too badly but then had heart surgery), and stand-in Chris Hughton (who seems out of his depth). Devoted, loyal and so often disappointed Newcastle fans have not been served well by the club’s current owner, who seemed intent on giving priority to his preferred management structure over actual success on the field.
Maybe it’s all too late, and maybe it’s just a fantasy anyway, but for most Newcastle fans the news of Shearer’s return will prompt a spark of optimism and belief. He was one of the club’s best players ever, and he is a local man. Whatever happens now, at least it will be interesting.