Alan Shearer will take his first training session as Newcastle manager this morning knowing he has just eight matches to save their season.
Having previously turned down the chance to join the coaching staff under Kevin Keegan, the Magpies’ record goalscorer has decided he cannot sit by and watch the club he loves suffer the ignominy of relegation.
Newcastle are currently 18th in the Premier League, two points from safety, and with just one win in their past 12 games.
“It’s a tough situation Newcastle are in and I feel deeply for this club,” said the 38-year-old, who has completed all but one of his coaching badges but is still to gain his FIFA Pro Licence and has no managerial experience.
“I believe I can help it along with the players, there is a nucleus here that can get this club out of trouble.
“They are very good players lacking confidence and it’s up to me and the staff to get the best out of them.”
With the club in freefall owner Mike Ashley gambled on bringing in Shearer to galvanise the dressing room in the final two months of the season.
“I got a call over the weekend off Derek Llambias (managing director) and Mike Ashley (owner) and I went round for a chat,” said Shearer, who is a legend on Tyneside having scored 206 goals in 404 appearances during a 10-year spell at his home-town club.
“They asked if I would take charge for the remaining eight games and I asked for a little time to think and spoke to a few people.
“It’s a club I love and I, just like many thousands of people, desperately don’t want the club to go down and I will do everything I can to try to prevent that.”
Shearer, who has brought in former Southampton team-mate and ex-QPR manager Iain Dowie to assist him, takes over from caretaker boss Chris Hughton – who was himself standing in for Joe Kinnear who is recovering from heart bypass surgery.
Kinnear was brought in after Keegan resigned just eight months into his second spell at the club.
“This is for an eight-game spell, I’m looking no further than that,” Shearer told Radio 5 Live.
“Joe Kinnear is in the job at the moment and recovering well from his operation. I’m here for eight games and eight games only and [I aim] to try to keep this team in the Premier League.”
After taking training Shearer will be officially unveiled at a press conference at St James’ Park this afternoon.
Shearer’s arrival coincides with the departure of executive director (football) Dennis Wise, whose appointment in January 2008 as part of an overhaul of the management structure was unpopular with fans from the outset.
It was not welcomed by Keegan, brought in around the same time but who resigned in September last year, while Shearer was also critical of the structure at the club.
Wise’s exit was confirmed less than an hour before Shearer was announced as the club’s fourth different manager of a difficult season.
“The club would like to take this opportunity to wish Dennis well for the future. There are no plans to appoint a replacement in this role,” said a club statement.
Shearer’s job now is to galvanise a squad low on confidence and get them ready for Saturday’s visit of Chelsea.