Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Ashley's Last Throw of the Dice Offers Him Shot at Redemption; Shearer as Manager Is Mike Ashley's Last Throw of the Dice but One Which Ensures They Are Loaded in His Favour. Chief Sports Writer Luke Edwards Tries to Make Sense of Another Dramatic Day at Newcastle United

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Ashley's Last Throw of the Dice Offers Him Shot at Redemption; Shearer as Manager Is Mike Ashley's Last Throw of the Dice but One Which Ensures They Are Loaded in His Favour. Chief Sports Writer Luke Edwards Tries to Make Sense of Another Dramatic Day at Newcastle United

Article excerpt

FOR someone who has been perceived as a pariah by the majority of fans at Newcastle United this season, Mike Ashley still has an unnerving ability to rally Messiahs to his cause.

To bring back Kevin Keegan as manager was a remarkable achievement when you consider the former Newcastle striker had retired from football more than two years earlier.

But to bring back Alan Shearer as manager in his - and the club's - greatest hour of need in the Premier League era is simply stunning from a man who many on Tyneside could not wait to see the back of.

Tempting Shearer to fulfil his destiny does not bring him forgiveness just yet, but it certainly offers him an excellent shot at redemption.

There are no magic wands in football, but in the appointment of Shearer as manager for the last eight games of the season, United's owner has gone a long way to ensuring the bad-will towards him has disappeared. That is, when you consider the hostility that has been thrown at him this season, some magic trick.

However, if the presence of the former club captain is enough to cast a spell over those who have spent most of the season frozen by the fear of relegation, this is a mutually beneficial arrangement.

For Ashley, Shearer's willingness to work for him instantly gives his troubled regime credence and it gives a football club fresh belief that relegation and financial ruin can be avoided.

For Shearer, this is the chance to take the job he has always wanted in circumstances which ensure he has nothing to lose and absolutely everything to gain.

If he keeps Newcastle up, the Shearer legend will go from strength to strength and he will have the power to take the job, long-term, on his own terms. If Newcastle go down, nobody will blame a manager who only had eight games to turn things around and, if he wants it, the job will almost certainly still be his in the Championship.

Shearer always has been a winner because he is clever, as well as talented, and his first steps as a manager offer further compelling evidence of that. He knows there is no chance he can end up on the losing side, so why not choose to make his eagerly-awaited, but always expected comeback now? There are clear parallels with the appointment of Keegan 17 years ago when Sir John Hall pleaded with the former striker to answer Newcastle's distress call. Like Shearer, Keegan had no managerial REUNITED Alan Shearer and Michael Owen, facing page, come together again to stave off relegation. Inset, left to right, Shearer, Mike Ashley and a fan at the striker's testimonial. The call to Shearer has parallels with Kevin Keegan's arrival, left..

track record, but what he lacked in experience he more than compensated for in passion and stature.

His presence alone in those tense, early days was enough to inspire a run of results which hauled them clear of the First Division drop zone and from that grew the football club Keegan took to within four heartbreaking points of the Premier League title just four years later. …

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