Should Shearer stay or go?
Alan Shearer has a big decision on his hands after his eight-game stint in charge of Newcastle United ended in relegation from the Premier League on Sunday.
Most fans of the club will be desperate for Shearer, the club’s record goalscorer, to be handed the job of rebuilding the team as they prepare for life outside the top flight.
But is sentiment once again in danger of clouding the judgement of those who will make the decision? After all, Newcastle appear in such a mess that surely a manager of vast experience is needed.
Then again, Kevin Keegan was a managerial rookie when he took over in 1992 with the club heading for the third tier of English football and he transformed them into a side that almost landed the Premier League title.
The recent record of former big name players making the jump to manage big clubs is not great, however. Paul Ince failed at Blackburn Rovers, Tony Adams at Portsmouth and Roy Keane ultimately walked away from Sunderland.
Geordie fans will demand an instant return to the top flight and that will heap huge pressure on whoever is in charge next season. Shearer would be given more leeway than an outsider, but it would still be a huge gamble for him and the club.
If it failed, where would they go from there?
Owner Mike Ashley would be best served by approaching a proven manager such as Wigan Athletic’s Newcastle-born boss Steve Bruce with Shearer involved as an assistant.
Fulham’s Roy Hodgson would also be a safe bet as would former Tottenham Hotspur boss Martin Jol who has often expressed a wish to return to English football.
However, logic has tended to go out of the window at Newcastle down the years. With Ashley still trying to appease the fans after Keegan’s sudden exit this season from his second stint as manager, Shearer is clear favourite — if he wants the job.
After eight weeks of stress, he may just head back for the BBC studios for the less health-damaging career of football punditry.
PHOTO: Alan Shearer throws the ball back into play during their English Premier League match against Aston Villa, May 24, 2009. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez