NEWCASTLE - Alan Shearer was adamant it was not all about him as the former Newcastle United striker outlined his plans to prevent the club becoming the latest big-name side to tumble out of the Premier League. However, the thousands of supporters and hundreds of reporters gathered for his unveiling as Newcastle manager did not quite agree. On the contrary, this was all about Shearer. A sense of deja vu pervaded as Tyneside welcomed its latest returning hero on Thursday, one who has accepted the daunting challenge of managing his hometown club which is in danger of surrendering its 16-year tenure in England's top flight. Just like 13 years ago after signing for a world record 15 million pounds, Shearer was greeted by the adoring Geordie legions at St James' Park. Shearer's arrival echoed the manner in which Kevin Keegan, also a former Newcastle favourite taking his first steps in management, swept back to Tyneside in 1992 with the club on the brink of dropping into the third tier for the first time. Keegan -- the original 'Geordie Messiah' -- proved up to the task of avoiding relegation, before taking supporters on an emotional rollercoaster that led to the brink of the Premier League title in 1996. Shearer will be under even closer scrutiny during his intriguing two-month rescue mission, but he told reporters: "It's not about me. We have to get away from this Alan Shearer thing. "I understand the clamour and why the fans are outside, because it's myself and Newcastle United but it's not about me, it's about keeping this club in the Premier League and I'm trying as hard as I can to do that," the 38-year-old said. FORMIDABLE OPPOSITION His task in the remaining eight league games is to finish above three other Premier League clubs when the season culminates on May 24. Newcastle are third from bottom, two points adrift of safety after a single victory in 14 games and have not won at home since December 21. Chelsea provide formidable opening opposition for Shearer on Saturday, while visits to Liverpool and Aston Villa, on the final day of the campaign, hint at a run-in not for the faint-hearted. Should Shearer prove successful in his aim, there is no guarantee of the rekindled love affair lasting beyond this season. "I'm here for eight games," Shearer said when asked about the length of his tenure. "I'm here for eight games only, so I've got to learn very quickly. "I probably wouldn't have accepted this kind of offer from any other club (but) it wouldn't be hard for me to walk away at the end of eight weeks. That's the plan. I want this club to stay up and then the powers that be will decide the direction they want to go in. "I envisage sitting in the stands next season watching Newcastle as a Premier League club and I'll be doing everything in my power to make that happen." If that turns out to be the case, Shearer may find the clamour for him to stay on difficult to ignore. Either way, if safety is secured, his status as a Tyneside hero will be complete.
2 April 2009
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