Newcastle boss Alan Shearer changes his tune over TV pundits

By Joe Bernstein for the Daily Mail

Alan Shearer, who spent almost three years as a BBC football pundit before taking on his attempted rescue of home town club Newcastle United, has insisted he 'does not care' what his former colleagues on the Match of the Day sofa say about the challenge he faces.

And his comments also appeared to suggest that he is ready to commit his long-term future to Newcastle, despite his original intention to stay only until the end of the season.

Shearer, who has kept his diary open for the summer so he can plan for next season if he reaches agreement with club owner Mike Ashley to stay on, referred to his TV punditry job in the past tense as he planned for Monday's crucial Premier League visit by Portsmouth.

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Newcastle United manager Alan Shearer

Staying power: Shearer's loyalty to United will drive him on

'I am not a pundit any more. I am now the manager,' he said. 'I don't really care what people on the outside say, probably like they didn't care what I said when I sat there on a Saturday night a month ago.

'Everyone has an opinion. I respect that, because that is what I do - that's what I did. I respect it, but listen to it? No.'

Shearer, who joked that former Match of the Day colleagues Gary Lineker and Alan Hansen had sent him texts that were 'not complimentary', insisted that he does not believe the task of saving Newcastle from relegation is beyond his players.

He said: 'We have only won four games at home in the league all season. Now I am asking the players to win three of our five games left. So what? I am expecting them to win three.'

He denied that the threat of a potentially ruinous exit from the top flight had put him under pressure. 'The situation we are in doesn't make me nervous at all,' he said.

'This is where we find ourselves and I am excited there is a battle on my hands. 'We can't look any further than survival now. But you would hope one day the club can be at the top end of the table again, challenging.

'That is the aim –- to keep them up and then look at things and see where we go after that and say: "That's how we take things forward".'

Shearer was quick to stress when he arrived that he would only be in charge until the end of the season. That was out of respect to manager Joe Kinnear who is recovering from heart bypass surgery. But Shearer's actions have made it effectively impossible for Kinnear to return.

Coaches Chris Hughton and Colin Calderwood have been marginalised by the arrival of Shearer's No 2 Iain Dowie and last week club doctor Ian McGuinness was sacked.

Newcastle have suffered a long injury list all season. Shearer has also made it clear the team have been left seriously unbalanced by the transfer policy of Dennis Wise and Kinnear.

BBC Match of the Day pundits

Pundit pals: Shearer with former BBC Match of the Day colleagues
Gary Lineker, Alan Hansen and Mark Lawrenson

'There is a lack of balance,' he said. 'That is there for everyone to see. It has been there all season. It is frustrating, but I am not complaining because I knew the situation when I said I would come and help.

'There is only one left-back (Enrique) and only two other leftsided players (Duff and Lovenkrands) here.'

Shearer hopes his experience as an England international will help with his team talk before the Portsmouth game - even though Euro 96 team-mates Paul Ince, Tony Adams, David Platt and Stuart Pearce have all flopped in club management.

Only West Brom are below Newcastle in the table and Shearer has taken only one point from a possible nine as interim boss. But he said: 'I hope my background can help in this situation. That's probably one of the reasons I've been asked to do what I'm doing.

'Hopefully, I'll be able to speak to the players and get my ideas across and get them to go out and put them into practice.

'Players like Roy Keane or myself don't need to go into management but we are here because we love the game. I love this football club and I love football. All I've ever done is football and I'm not going to turn away from that.'

Although Shearer is still confident of beating the drop, it seems the club's hierarchy are not so sure. They unveiled their 2009-10 strip last week - but the shirts do not carry the Premier League emblem on the sleeves.