NEWCASTLE - Newcastle United's temporary manager Alan Shearer said he needed to restore confidence among his players and stop them gifting goals to the opposition after Saturday's 2-0 defeat by Chelsea. Second-half strikes from Frank Lampard and Florent Malouda left 18th-placed Newcastle in deep trouble in the relegation zone, three points behind local rivals Sunderland in 17th. "It was always going to be a very hard task," Shearer told a news conference after the first of his eight matches in charge before stepping down at the end of the season. "I remain optimistic and I'm trying to pick out positives but we have to get some confidence back into the players. "We have to make the most of this week ahead to prepare for our next game but first and foremost we need to stop conceding silly goals." A party atmosphere welcomed former Newcastle and England captain Shearer at the start but he shunned the opportunity to milk the adulation from a rare St James' Park full-house of 52,000 in favour of a low-key entry to the dugout. Chelsea then turned into unpopular guests by putting Newcastle's 16-year Premier League tenure in further peril. Shearer's team matched the title hopefuls in the first half but the visitors went ahead in the 56th minute when Lampard scored after Argentina defender Fabricio Coloccini was caught in possession by Nicolas Anelka. Anelka also played a part in the second goal, flicking on a goal kick for Lampard to set up Malouda. STOKE CLASH Newcastle have gained only one win in 13 league games and Shearer's attention now turns to next Saturday's clash with fellow strugglers Stoke City. Difficult trips to high-flying Liverpool and Aston Villa are also among the last seven matches. "There will be twists and turns before the end of the season," said Shearer. "We're know we're in a fight and that's what we'll continue to do. "Effort-wise I've no complaints but we needed a bit more quality and I'm sure we'll step that up." Television replays suggested Michael Owen's late effort that was cleared may have already crossed Chelsea's line. Newcastle have not won a home game since December but Chelsea's own temporary manager Guus Hiddink said he had seen positive signs for Shearer. "In spite of the defeat today Newcastle will recover," the Dutchman said. "They showed some good things and that's a foundation for gathering points in the future."
4 April 2009
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