Shearer's show of faith has Viduka back to his bullying best at Newcastle
13 May 2009 12:04
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Newcastle fans finally saw what the fuss was about with Mark Viduka on Monday and of all the clubs, in all the world, he chose Middlesbrough to make his mark.
After departing the 3-1 win over Boro to a standing ovation four minutes from the end, he was hugged by his temporary manager, Alan Shearer, the man who made it his mission on his first day back in proper work to get Viduka fit and bullying defenders again.
Gareth Southgate, a former team-mate and the manager who released Viduka from Boro, could only stare ahead as the striker received his adulation.
The Middlesbrough boss and fans could write the script. With his £80,000-a-week contract nearing its end, and the possibility of a further year, Viduka has got his finger out.
The 33-year-old Australian, who believed his Newcastle days were numbered under Joe Kinnear despite putting off an operation which would have ruled him out for almost a year, is hoping to do enough to convince Shearer that, like his manager, he should remain.
Viduka said: 'When I had problems with my achilles, I worked hard to get back but Joe Kinnear didn't look like he wanted to use me. An operation would have been complicated and I cannot afford to be out for so long at my age.
'When Alan Shearer came in, the first thing he said to me was, 'are you up for a fight?' And I am always up for a fight. I said, 'definitely!'
'I admired Alan as a player. We play the same position and when someone with his personality and what he has done in the game comes and says, 'I need you', it lifts you.'
Monday's win was manager Shearer's first but Viduka said he gave the dressing room a lift the moment he returned.
'I would love to spend more time at this club. I would love to have good times here and, with Alan as boss, this club has a lot of potential,' explained Viduka.
Viduka may have helped to condemn his former club to the Championship just three years after playing in the UEFA Cup final. He embraced Southgate after Monday's game and said: 'Gareth is a top bloke and a good coach. I spent three good years at the Boro and I don't want to see them go down.
'We are not out of it but it was just nice to enjoy our first win for a long time.'