Winning would mean more to me than being captain of England - Shearer

23 May 2009 10:38
For Alan Shearer, the sheer joy of keeping his beloved Newcastle in the Premier League will be immeasurable.

Tyneside's local hero, whose association with the club began when hewas a ball boy and led to him first captaining and now managing theteam, has no doubts about where avoiding the drop would rank.

Shouting the odds: Alan Shearer reveals how much is at stake for four desperate managers

 NEWCASTLE UNITED FC: All the latest news from across the webShearer gives forgotten man Owen a chance to clinch Newcastle's survivalSir Bobby Robson talks to local hero Steve Harper about Newcastle's day of reckoningTaylor has double vision: We've beaten Villa already this season and we can do it again'It would be the greatest thing that's ever happened to me in football, bigger than being appointed England captain, bigger than winning a championship medal at Blackburn,' he says.

'That's how important it would be to me.'

You can almost see the passion welling up in his eyes as he says the words. So much for the popular conception that Shearer lacks emotion.

But the Newcastle boss knows it will take more than confidence and commitment to get the result against Aston Villa that gives them a chance of staying in the top flight.

'I hope to have a game plan that will be successful on the day,' he said. 'Villa are not having the best of times either, but they have some very good players with an excellent, experienced manager. Whatever team I put out it will be one to try to stop them and then try to win it.'

Even if they do, of course, they are still relying on failure by Hull City or Sunderland to save them from the drop.

But Shearer's future at the club does not just rest on today's result. It will be decided this week when he has talks with owner Mike Ashley.

Of the north-east's three managers, Shearer's long-term job prospects look the rosiest.

Indeed, he gave a broad hint that he has turned his back for good on the Match Of The Day panel when he revealed the Villa result would not be a factor in his decision.

'My future will not depend on whether we win or lose,' he said.

Middlesbrough chairman Steve Gibson has publicly backed Gareth Southgate but is intensely disappointed his home-town club are in the position they are in, while safety is essential to give Ricky Sbragia the chance of another season in charge at Sunderland.

Southgate said: 'We've always spoken long term and we've already spoken about what we would want to be doing next year. We have to sit down after Sunday and nail down some of those plans. We've always looked at next season and in more recent times we've had to look as a business at both possible scenarios.

'My hunger for management is as great as ever. I think I've got three years' good experience now, or three years' experience! I have greater knowledge and a determination to keep improving.

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'It's been a very difficult spell for us. You would expect to progress over three years but it's not been smooth. But maybe long term we'll all be stronger and better for it.'

Sbragia has maintained a dignified stance while his team have struggled and speculation about possible successors has been rife.

Sunderland and Hull are in a position of comparative comfort compared with their relegation rivals, they could lose and still stay up - as long as the others lose, too.

The situation is not lost on the Sunderland boss, who remains optimistic about managing the club in the Premier League next season.

'It's in our hands,' said Sbragia. 'We've had umpteen opportunities. I hope we can get a win against Chelsea - you are always hoping and praying. You hope you have a super day and play the best you've ever played, which we're going to have to do.

'It would be nice to stay in the Premier League. It's a massive game for me, definitely, because I don't want to be known as a manager who takes Sunderland down. I can only do my best and prepare them the best we can and then it's up to the players.'

Bookmakers rarely give odds on miracles. Their relegation markets reflect a more pragmatic view of the outcome of football's so-called Judgment Sunday.

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Of the three north-east teams battling to avoid sharing the fate of already doomed West Bromwich Albion, they rate Boro 100-1 on to go down.

But Southgate is still ready to clutch at any straw. Boro travel to West Ham knowing even a win might not be enough.

'People are saying we are already as good as down, but it's not so far-fetched that results go our way,' said the Boro boss, whose team have to win, hope others lose and overturn an inferior goal difference.

'After drawing against Villa last week, the players thought that was it. Then, all of a sudden, there was this lifeline, albeit a long shot.

'But with the three games, it's feasible. We have to get our result. We haven't done that enough and there are any number of weekends when results have gone for us but we haven't done our part. So let's do our part and other things might happen for us.

'But if you go down, you always deserve to go down. No matter what anyone says, if you're in that position after 38 games, you've had long enough to get out of it. We are where we deserve to be right now and come Sunday night we'll be where we deserve to be.'

Newcastle's odds may give more room for hope, but backing them at 7-4 on would not make you rich.

In spite of bookies' pessimism, Shearer rates his team a better bet for safety than Hull, whom he believes have it all to do against Manchester United.

'I am confident Sir Alex Ferguson will put a team out that will be good enough to win,' he said.

'He can do whatever he wants - he got himself into this situation by winning the league and by being in the Champions League final. He'll do what's best for his club, not for any other and he's entitled to do that. 'In his situation, I would do exactly the same. They're all tough games, but I believe if we go there and win we'll stay up.'

 NEWCASTLE UNITED FC: All the latest news from across the webShearer gives forgotten man Owen a chance to clinch Newcastle's survivalSir Bobby Robson talks to local hero Steve Harper about Newcastle's day of reckoningTaylor has double vision: We've beaten Villa already this season and we can do it again


Source: Daily_Mail