MARTIN SAMUEL: Shearer's first victory is payback for a season of torture
This will have been how Alan Shearer imagined it. The stadium in full cry, the team rampant, his strikers inspired. Only when he looks at the League table this morning and sees the narrow margin between success and failure will reality set in. Goal difference is all that keeps Newcastle United in the Barclays Premier League right now and Fulham are due here on Saturday. Cussed Fulham, awkward Fulham, the form team in the division, set out by one of its most experienced managers, Roy Hodgson. Shearer must hope that what happened at St James' Park last night has reversed the natural order, that it has forged the confidence to surmount all obstacles and ripped the heart out of Hull City, who tumbled into the bottom three in Newcastle's place. Middlesbrough are, after all, no indication of the trials ahead. They are dead men walking, a Championship team in waiting, and Gareth Southgate, their manager, looked as if he knew it at the end. He seemed to be blinking a lot. Fulham, by contrast, have the cold stare of the real Premier League deal and the Europa League in sight. 'Are you ready for some football?' cried an overexcited stadium announcer before the game, to which the honest reply would be: 'Yes, pal, and we have been for about 50 years. A fat lot of good it has done us.'
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