Alan Shearer will be celebrating the biggest success of his footballing career if Newcastle United escape the threat of Premier League relegation on Sunday. "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," Shearer told the Daily Mail ahead of the visit to Aston Villa. Since swapping television punditry for the Newcastle manager's job Shearer has won just one of seven matches, and now with one Premier League game remaining the club's fate is out of their hands. Their woeful form, before and after Shearer's arrival, has left them third-last in the standings, a point behind Hull City and two adrift of Sunderland. Second-last Middlesbrough, two points behind Newcastle, are also still fighting for survival on what is sure to be a painfully tense final day of action on Sunday. Shearer has consistently stated his belief that Newcastle can yet survive but their chances look grim. They have won only seven of their 37 league games, just two of them away. On the plus side, one of the home wins was against Villa, who have little to play for. Defeat at Villa Park would see Newcastle drop into the Championship for the first time in 16 years. Even a draw or win will not be enough if Hull match their result in their home game against a Manchester United team certain to be without several big names ahead of the Champions League final. Sunderland, at home to Chelsea, have to match either Newcastle or Hull's result. Middlesbrough need to beat West Ham United away and hope Hull and Newcastle lose. Even then they would need a big swing to overhaul Hull on goal difference.
24 May 2009
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