Friday, 1 May 2009

Shearer: Work in Progress...?

I yield to no-one (well, one or two...) in my admiration for Alan Shearer, and so mates of mine were knocked back a bit on April Fool's Day of 2005 when I queried Al's decision to reverse his planned retirement and so play on another season for NUFC: this in the belief that the club was 'going places' under Graeme Souness and that he had a bit more to give to the effort. 'Were he a horse', I actually opined in one rash moment at the time, 'he'd have been shot by now'... As it happened, he shouldered on under Souness, suffering strangely-fated defeats in an FA Cup semi and a UEFA last eight. Then, with Owen crocked as usual for most of 2005-06, he often played as our main striker in his supposed twilight season, a much-dulled threat overall, though overhauling the Milburn scoring record and chipping in some vital goals to get what was now Glenn Roeder's team into an Intertoto-qualifying 7th place.
So, what does the jury make of Al's most recent hopeful/faithful punt on behalf of the Toon, made, like the last one, on All Fool's Day? It seems to me, as it did decisively about 6 weeks ago, that we're going down, and we deserve to, because we're largely rubbish and barely half of a proper team. Still, the Portsmouth draw, a massive but not unexpected anti-climax, immediately had fans yet more cynical than me getting out their calculators again and redefining what might be sufficient. Shearer declared that it might yet be 'a good point', which tells you everything about his current responsibility for dressing-room morale.
Morale, plus discipline and 'heart', are the things that he has surely brought into the set-up. The team's few good players - Beye, Bassong - have said as much. But the sheer headless awfulness of the first hour at Tottenham, and the hopeless nervy 'finishing' versus Pompey, are death-knell sounds to me. They look like a side who'd need to be doomed before they could start to play again. Defeat against Liverpool this Sunday will certainly take them to that very brink. If they won their last three, which might be the least they can do, then they could at least 'deserve' to stay up.
But really, see, I'm thinking now about Nile Ranger and Andy Carroll trying to score the team out of the second division. I'm one of those dreaming of a cleansing of the Augean stables, if the club doesn't go into administration first. Will Shearer be around for any of this?

No comments: