Slow news day, so I'll take the opportunity to slate Alan Shearer. 7,500 people turn up to watch a training session which is nothing more than a carefully executed propaganda exercise (with less of the careful and dollops of the propaganda). The attendance was apparently quite low considering how folk in Newcastle don't have much else to do other than follow their football club and welcome the latest in a never-ending recruitment drive to find their true Messiah. Although it's best to point out that the Worlds Greatest Fans© are struggling to turn up for home matches this season with attendance figures falling. Which must surely be down to their teams performances on the pitch and all the unwanted boardroom politics off it. Which would make them 'fickle' and not 'passionate', not that the media or Sky Sports News know how to differentiate between the two. Unless of course the club is based in the south of England, and in particular, North London - where they are most definitely classed as fickle.
In the training session Shearer barked out instructions, which is a first as Dowie has apparently been coordinating things on the training pitch since their arrival at the club. More comically, he took part in a 5-a-side game and scored following it up with his textbook hand in the air trademark celebration. Rolling back the years there Alan. It's epically embarrassing stuff from the publicity-shy pundit. Not quite the same thing as Hoddle showing Beckham how to bend a free-kick, but still....transparent for all to see.
Dowie is the one with the experience in training and management (when you write these things down and read them back, it just seems to get worse and worse for them doesn't it?). Shearer is meant to be there as some form of inspiration. A testament to a brand new beginning. A figure head to galvanise the club. In reality it's a ploy to soften any potential disaster that might befall the club. If they go down, they will go down with a 'legend' at the helm. A legend who can't be held accountable thanks to the fact he only has 8 games to save them (1 down, 7 to go). He's going to 'walk away' from it at the end of the season, so either way its advantage Shearer. If they go down, he'll be thanked for his gallant effort. If they stay up, his ego and new founded managerial credentials will expand tenfold. From a personal perspective, it gives him an opportunity to experiment with management and see if he has anything in the way of ability for any future challenge. What better way to test the waters than with the gift of eight games from the struggling Toon fanboy die-hard Mike Ashley (who might or might not be a Tottenham fan).
Keegan left in the midst of controversy. Kinnear (wish him well) might only return in a non-management capacity. And as for Shearer? He'll be back on the Match of the Day sofa, faster than you can say 'relegated'.
He apparently asked the 'lads' where else would thousands turn up to watch their team train (apart from the fact some clubs get 20,000 or so for reserve and academy games)? This is apparently his way of illustrating the importance and passion Newcastle play in the hearts of the locals. I guess getting 45-50K for home matches isn't reason enough for players to try harder.
Sort of puts it into perspective when compared to our lot. Everytime a new man arrives at the Lane, he is also referred to as the new Messiah by the media. And pressure is always evident from the stands regarding style of football played. Which is why George Graham was never destined to be a favourite (along with rather more obvious reasons) and why Sam Allardyce lasted 5 minutes at Newcastle. There are some unnerving parallels between both clubs, although we have a habit of picking up silverware every decade. They just have a rather annoying habit of always beating us up at St James Park. Newcastle are there to make us feel better. For all the soap opera elements that Levy orchestrates, we are always out-done by our friends up North.
It seems like an age ago we did manage to beat them (2-1) in possibly the worst game of football ever up at their ground in the Carling Cup earlier this season. Sunday 19th April has the potential to be one of emotional dejection, if the barcodes win at the Lane. Because it would mean we have aided them in their fight for survival.
That is simply unacceptable.
So, welcome to the 'Let's Relegate Newcastle United' campaign. Stoke, Pompey, Liverpool, Boro, Fulham and Villa are the other esteemed members. The prime directive is simple: Defeat Newcastle and do not allow for sharing of points.
It's in our hands to wipe the smugness off the face of Alan Shearer and make Match of the Day a little more bearable for all next season (I've run into some legal problems relating to the 'We must deport Mark Lawerson' initiative. Will keep you posted on developments on that one).
Stoke up first. Thoughts and prayers.