Shearer expects Magpies to escape

22 May 2009 02:56
Newcastle manager Alan Shearer says he is "totally convinced" that his side will avoid relegation. The Magpies, who travel to Aston Villa for their final game on Sunday, are a point adrift of safety and are relying on other results to go their way. "I am totally convinced we will get out of it, yes, and more importantly, so are my players," said Shearer. "We know what's at stake. I'm confident we can go there and give our great fans something to shout about, I really am." Newcastle must better Hull's result at home against champions Manchester United to avoid being relegated to the second tier of English football. The Magpies, who were last relegated from the top flight in 1989, have endured a tumultuous season with Kevin Keegan, Joe Kinnear, Chris Hughton and Shearer all in charge of first-team affairs at various points. Kinnear was brought in as manager in the wake of Keegan's abrupt departure, but had to undergo heart surgery in in February. Hughton took the reins in the short-term before Shearer arrived for the final eight games of the season. Owner Mike Ashley came in for huge criticism from supporters in the wake of Keegan's departure in September and put the club up for sale, before changing his mind in December, while there have been several changes at boardroom level - including the exit of Dennis Wise. But with the club's Premier League survival resting on 90 minutes against Villa (and favourable results elsewhere), Shearer says the size of the match is as big as any he has ever been involved in. "It's bigger than a cup final, a hell of a lot bigger than a cup final," added Shearer, who has taken five points from a possible 21 since taking the role at the start of April. "The question has been asked on four or five occasions over the last four or five games, 'is this the biggest game of your career?', and I keep answering, 'yes, because it's the next one'. "We have asked the players to forget about what happened when we lost [1-0 at home] to Fulham last weekend, because it's gone, we can't change it. "What we can change is this weekend and I believe if we go there and win, it will be a very very good day for us." West Brom are already down, but two from Middlesbrough, Newcastle, Hull and Sunderland will join them in the Championship next season. Boro must beat West Ham away to stand any chance of survival, while Sunderland, who are two points above Newcastle, face Chelsea at home. Hull are in a similar boat to Sunderland in that a victory will see them safe no matter what happens elsewhere. The Tigers take on an under-strength Manchester United, who are resting several key players ahead of their Champions League final next Wednesday, at the KC Stadium. The likes of Wayne Rooney, Cristiano Ronaldo and Michael Carrick have been omitted from the squad with Federico Macheda and Daniel Welbeck set to lead the United attack and Darren Gibson in midfield. But Hull assistant boss Brian Horton says that does not make the game any easier for the Tigers. "Whatever side they put out, it will be will be full of quality," he told BBC Sport. "I've seen their reserves play numerous times this season and their second team play in the cup games and they have been fantastic. "We're trying to focus on ourselves. It's in our own hands, if we can beat United we're safe no matter what anyone else does." City boss Phil Brown also says he is not concerned with Sir Alex Ferguson's team selection. He said: "Sir Alex has had 22 years at one football club and he has earned the right to do whatever he wants to do on Sunday. "He has got a massive game three days after this game. "I would do the same - if I had the option I would play players that won't be playing in the game on Wednesday. Ferguson, meanwhile, has reiterated that his side will be going to Hull to win. "If we don't win on Sunday I will be slaughtered on Monday," he said. "It will be the worst thing that has ever happened to the British game. "People will be complaining about me damaging the integrity of our league. But no-one should be unduly worried about our intentions. "Ricky Sbragia worked here. He knows this club. He knows exactly what we will do. Gareth Southgate and Shearer played against us many times. They know exactly what it is like against Manchester United." Sbragia, the Sunderland boss, is drawing inspiration from Bradford's remarkable escape from relegation in 2000 when David Wetherall's header sealed victory for City over Champions League-chasing Liverpool. "I am confident we still stay in the Premier League, but we have got to go and do it," said Sbragia. "I can remember Bradford playing Liverpool and nobody gave Bradford a hope in hell, and they won 1-0, so it can always happen. "We have got to go out there and be a bit braver and take the game to them. "Anything can happen in football, and we hope we can come out with a win." Chelsea manager Guus Hiddink is planning to field a strong team at the Stadium of Light in preparation for their FA Cup final against Everton a week later. "I don't want to rest a lot of players because they need to maintain their physical shape and also the way we want them to play," he said. "If I rest too many people then I don't think it's good preparation for Wembley."

Source: BBC_Sport