There’s really not much Alan Shearer can do tonight, other than to get his players ready to attack Middlesbrough and hopefully get a few goals ahead, to give his players some much needed confidence.
Alan Shearer – big test of his management tonight
With Alan’s experience of World Cups and European Championships for England in a wonderful playing career, he is still insisting tonight is the most important game in his football career, but whether those words will be picked up by his players is another matter.
In a day which could well decide Newcastle’s fate in the Premier League Shearer talked to the Newcastle Journal this morning:
“This is as important and as big as it will be without a shadow of a doubt,” “I’d go so far as to say it’s the biggest of my career.”
“This is the biggest game without a doubt. It is bigger than Euro ‘96.”
Of course it’s the biggest game of his career only because his home town club is in danger of the unimaginable, of being relegated and having to play in the Championship next season. That could decimate the club in terms of confidence and standing in the game, and would make it difficult to attract decent players, that’s for sure.
Shearer and assistant manager Iain Dowie have been working on formation and personnel since last Wednesday, so we are told, and we would expect Alan to play 3 up front in a 4-3-3 attacking formation.
But the formation and the players’ responsibilities cannot be too complicated tonight, because they will need to play somewhere near their best if we are to beat Middlesbrough. The good news is that Middlesbrough have been as bad as Newcastle all season, and it’s not like we are playing Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal or Manchester United, as we have done recently.
Both teams are on 31 points after 35 games, and are joint bottom of the league, after WBA had the cheek to beat Wigan 3-1 on Saturday. WBA gained 3 points to be on the same points total, and they have also won two of their last 3 games, and may still be a threat to Newcastle, and are not dead and buried yet.
The three up front will play in front of a midfield that could well include young Danny Guthrie, who replaces the injured Alan Smith and the banned Joey Barton, and Steven Taylor could also come in to partner the majestic Sebastien Bassong in the heart of the Newcastle defense.
Taylor should displace the disappointing Fabricio Coloccini, who may be on his way in the summer, and this is just the type of game where local boy Steven can shine in, and maybe even get a goal.
“There’s a few things we can do but I’ve got a team in my head that I think will get us three points,” “You could say that we didn’t score but you also look and think we created three good chances for each one of them.”
“So on another night you’d expect one of those chances to go in. So from that point of view I felt it worked.” “When you go in with that particular system what you lack is width.”
“You need your full-backs to provide that width. Now whether we go in with that on Monday I couldn’t tell you that.” “But that’s what you do lack with three up front is a little bit of width and that’s the balance I’ve got to get right.”
We’ve criticized the side a lot this year, and said often we would be only too pleased if the players could go out and prove us wrong (please!) – we’d be the first ones to hold up our hands and acknowledge they were better than we gave them credit for.
But we’ve also noticed there have been precious few times we’ve had to do that this season, and the last good display and result was WBA in February. And that was our last win, and it’s now May.
Let’s hope they prove us wrong tonight – big time!