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On Second Thoughts: Alan Shearer

He is remembered as a Newcastle legend, but the most significant period of his career - by far - was at Blackburn

 

Alan Shearer never scored more than 30 league goals in a season for Newcastle. Photograph: Owen Humphreys/PA

 

Those observing from afar tend to rank another person's relationships purely on longevity. Size definitely matters. On the inside, it can be different: the person trapped in a loveless 30-year marriage might still long wistfully for the magic of that two-month fling back in 1974, or those final hours in 1976 before the injunction kicked in.

 

If that's the rule, Alan Shearer's career might be the exception. To the man himself only his nine-year career at Newcastle seems to matter, and at times you wonder if he's been to Lacuna Inc. to erase the memory of his four years at Blackburn. Yet to many an impartial observer, those years were significantly more exciting, rewarding and memorable than his time at St James' Park. When Newcastle meet Blackburn Park tomorrow, only one set of fans should still be chanting Shearer's name, and none of them will be topless.

 

The differences between Shearer's work at Blackburn and Newcastle are startling. At Ewood Park he was, as one blogger put it recently, "some sort of demented machine"; at Newcastle he grew into a caricature of himself, like Oasis's later albums. At Blackburn he was omnipotent on the field; at Newcastle he was only omnipotent off it, getting rid of managers such as Ruud Gullit and showing such a masterful grasp of politics that you feel it's not only his anodyne offerings that mean he should be somewhere else other than the Match of the Day sofa.

 

Even the ending of each club career was in stark contrast. Shearer's last act as a Blackburn player was to ram home a penalty for England in the Euro 96 shootout against Germany, having proved himself Europe's best centre-forward; his last act for Newcastle was to knack his knee against Sunderland and limp into retirement.

 

At Blackburn he scored 112 goals in 138 league games; at Newcastle he scored 148 in 303. That's an extra 165 games for 36 goals: Emile Heskey has suffered years of ridicule for less (or, rather, more). At Blackburn, Shearer scored goal after goal after gloriously inevitable goal, ramming the ball in viciously from all angles and distances. When Shearer scored a scorcher for England against Poland in 1996, Sir Alex Ferguson best summed up his quality by saying, "he hit it as if he meant to kill it."

 

Shearer was actually a Newcastle player at that point, and for his first season at St James' Park he was every bit as good as at Blackburn. Then, in a pre-season game at Everton ahead of the 1997-98, he suffered ankle-ligament damage and was simply never the same. The explosiveness that was central to his game had gone. It's nobody's fault his game dropped off after that, but that simple fact means that, in terms of seasons in which he performed at the very peak of his powers, it's Blackburn 4-1 Newcastle.

 

He hustled around 20 goals a season for Newcastle, and hit 30 in all competitions in 1999-2000, but his output could not match his earlier efforts. He still got by on a potent combination of experience and aura, and he never lost his finishing ability, which is something a No9 takes to the grave. But it was all a diluted version of what had gone before. He was a deluxe hasbeen.

 

Unthinkably, he even started missing penalties. Sometimes he was horribly ineffective. In his second, injury-hit season, 1997-98, he scored only two goals in 17 league games, and the only thing he connected properly with was Neil Lennon's head.

 

Shearer raised his right hand in celebration more than 30 times in the league for three consecutive seasons between 1993 and 1996, but never at Newcastle. Further analysis of his Premier League statistics show that he contributed 41 assists from open play in 138 league games for Blackburn, and 69 in 303 for Newcastle. He was a very good player for Newcastle, but for Blackburn he was a great one.

 

Yes he broke Newcastle's goalscoring record, an obviously worthy achievement, but as with so many records, that is a reward for longevity as much as excellence. And if he was as good as he and his disciples thought, why was he slumming it around mid-table for half his Newcastle career?

 

Shearer, with the ruthlessness and desire of the very top player, had no compunction about ratting his way out of a sinking ship in 1996; why not do so again? Many will cite simple love of the club. Do me a favour. Such a perception does not fit at all comfortably with Shearer's merciless edge, or the persistent rumour that he wanted to join another United, Manchester, in 1996. Just as the former West Indian fast bowler Colin Croft would, in the words of a team-mate, "bounce his grandmother" if he thought there was a wicket in it, so Shearer would do absolutely anything necessary to further his cause. It's what made him, briefly, so great.

 

In the opinion of many the reason, as Michael Hann noted, is because the club had become an "adjunct of his ego". You suspect Shearer knew he was gone at the very highest level - and a cynic would attribute his decision to retire from international football in 2000, ostensibly to focus on Newcastle, to this as well - and needed to fuel his ego in other ways. Shearer knew he could do no wrong; that, if he said jump, 40,000 Geordies would say, "Howay". Unsurprisingly, he fed off that.

 

As did they. The fusion and the delusion suited both parties. Whereas Blackburn fans have moved on from being dumped, and still regard - and you'll like this - Simon Garner as Mr Blackburn, Newcastle fans are so in thrall to Shearer that, as Simon Barnes noted, the club cannot move on until Shearer has had his stint as manager.

 

The peculiar psyche of Newcastle, which encourages the fans to deify weaklings like Kevin Keegan and run proper professionals like Sam Allardyce out of town, means that they crave a hero who ticks certain basic boxes, and Shearer did that. In return he got an adoration entirely disproportionate to his achievements, and a reputation that consequently stayed intact despite compelling evidence to the contrary.

 

Which leaves only one problem. Shearer left Blackburn because he wanted to win trophies, yet at Newcastle the closest he came was being a fly on the wall during Arsenal and Manchester United's FA Cup final processions of 1998 and 1999. David May has more championship medals than Shearer. It was not supposed to be like this.

 

Shearer's signing was supposed to push Newcastle on from the heartbreaking failure of 1995-96 yet, though they finished second in his first season, they never mounted a significant title challenge. Shearer, and Newcastle, revised their expectations as time went on, which allowed them to present a picture of perfect, contented unison. Maybe that's truly how they felt. But for many of us, Shearer as we want to remember him - by some distance the greatest English centre-forward most of us have ever seen - will always be associated with blue-and-white halves, not black-and-white stripes.

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He is remembered as a Newcastle legend, but the most significant period of his career - by far - was at Blackburn

No shit! Stating the obvious in that article.

 

Sometimes he was horribly ineffective. In his second, injury-hit season, 1997-98, he scored only two goals in 17 league games, and the only thing he connected properly with was Neil Lennon's head.

:read: harsh. Biggest injury of his career, which he came back from and the league quickly didn't matter that season with the cup run.

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Even the ending of each club career was in stark contrast. Shearer's last act as a Blackburn player was to ram home a penalty for England in the Euro 96 shootout against Germany, having proved himself Europe's best centre-forward; his last act for Newcastle was to knack his knee against Sunderland and limp into retirement.
True. It's not like he scored a goal in that match that helped us beat our arch-rivals 4-1. Edited by TheInspiration

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The differences between Shearer's work at Blackburn and Newcastle are startling. At Ewood Park he was, as one blogger put it recently, "some sort of demented machine"; at Newcastle he grew into a caricature of himself, like Oasis's later albums

 

Thats good

 

The peculiar psyche of Newcastle, which encourages the fans to deify weaklings like Kevin Keegan and run proper professionals like Sam Allardyce out of town

 

notsomuch

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Who wrote that :read: ?

 

 

 

Yes Shearer was probably never the player he was after his 2 major injuries (although mostly he wasn't playing in a great team either), but his goals to games played ratio stand up very will right until his final season.

 

No he might not have been as great as he could have been, but he hardly did a Ronaldo or a Kluivert.

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And since when did "the fans" run Allardyce out of town? (even though he was doing a rubbish job and looking like he'd completely lost the dressing room by that point)

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The peculiar psyche of Newcastle, which encourages the fans to deify weaklings like Kevin Keegan and run proper professionals like Sam Allardyce out of town, means that they crave a hero who ticks certain basic boxes, and Shearer did that. In return he got an adoration entirely disproportionate to his achievements, and a reputation that consequently stayed intact despite compelling evidence to the contrary.

 

:read:;):)

 

Get a grip you sad sack of shit. Do you really mean to tell us that when the rest of the nation thinks of Shearer, they think of Blackburn? Deluded.

 

And Fat Sam's such a proper professional that he's still out of a job, like another proper professional with Blackburn experience by the name of Souness.

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On Second Thoughts: Alan Shearer

He is remembered as a Newcastle legend, but the most significant period of his career - by far - was at Blackburn

 

Alan Shearer never scored more than 30 league goals in a season for Newcastle. Photograph: Owen Humphreys/PA

 

Those observing from afar tend to rank another person's relationships purely on longevity. Size definitely matters. On the inside, it can be different: the person trapped in a loveless 30-year marriage might still long wistfully for the magic of that two-month fling back in 1974, or those final hours in 1976 before the injunction kicked in.

 

If that's the rule, Alan Shearer's career might be the exception. To the man himself only his nine-year career at Newcastle seems to matter, and at times you wonder if he's been to Lacuna Inc. to erase the memory of his four years at Blackburn. Yet to many an impartial observer, those years were significantly more exciting, rewarding and memorable than his time at St James' Park. When Newcastle meet Blackburn Park tomorrow, only one set of fans should still be chanting Shearer's name, and none of them will be topless.

 

The differences between Shearer's work at Blackburn and Newcastle are startling. At Ewood Park he was, as one blogger put it recently, "some sort of demented machine"; at Newcastle he grew into a caricature of himself, like Oasis's later albums. At Blackburn he was omnipotent on the field; at Newcastle he was only omnipotent off it, getting rid of managers such as Ruud Gullit and showing such a masterful grasp of politics that you feel it's not only his anodyne offerings that mean he should be somewhere else other than the Match of the Day sofa.

 

Even the ending of each club career was in stark contrast. Shearer's last act as a Blackburn player was to ram home a penalty for England in the Euro 96 shootout against Germany, having proved himself Europe's best centre-forward; his last act for Newcastle was to knack his knee against Sunderland and limp into retirement.

 

At Blackburn he scored 112 goals in 138 league games; at Newcastle he scored 148 in 303. That's an extra 165 games for 36 goals: Emile Heskey has suffered years of ridicule for less (or, rather, more). At Blackburn, Shearer scored goal after goal after gloriously inevitable goal, ramming the ball in viciously from all angles and distances. When Shearer scored a scorcher for England against Poland in 1996, Sir Alex Ferguson best summed up his quality by saying, "he hit it as if he meant to kill it."

 

Shearer was actually a Newcastle player at that point, and for his first season at St James' Park he was every bit as good as at Blackburn. Then, in a pre-season game at Everton ahead of the 1997-98, he suffered ankle-ligament damage and was simply never the same. The explosiveness that was central to his game had gone. It's nobody's fault his game dropped off after that, but that simple fact means that, in terms of seasons in which he performed at the very peak of his powers, it's Blackburn 4-1 Newcastle.

 

He hustled around 20 goals a season for Newcastle, and hit 30 in all competitions in 1999-2000, but his output could not match his earlier efforts. He still got by on a potent combination of experience and aura, and he never lost his finishing ability, which is something a No9 takes to the grave. But it was all a diluted version of what had gone before. He was a deluxe hasbeen.

 

Unthinkably, he even started missing penalties. Sometimes he was horribly ineffective. In his second, injury-hit season, 1997-98, he scored only two goals in 17 league games, and the only thing he connected properly with was Neil Lennon's head.

 

Shearer raised his right hand in celebration more than 30 times in the league for three consecutive seasons between 1993 and 1996, but never at Newcastle. Further analysis of his Premier League statistics show that he contributed 41 assists from open play in 138 league games for Blackburn, and 69 in 303 for Newcastle. He was a very good player for Newcastle, but for Blackburn he was a great one.

 

Yes he broke Newcastle's goalscoring record, an obviously worthy achievement, but as with so many records, that is a reward for longevity as much as excellence. And if he was as good as he and his disciples thought, why was he slumming it around mid-table for half his Newcastle career?

 

Shearer, with the ruthlessness and desire of the very top player, had no compunction about ratting his way out of a sinking ship in 1996; why not do so again? Many will cite simple love of the club. Do me a favour. Such a perception does not fit at all comfortably with Shearer's merciless edge, or the persistent rumour that he wanted to join another United, Manchester, in 1996. Just as the former West Indian fast bowler Colin Croft would, in the words of a team-mate, "bounce his grandmother" if he thought there was a wicket in it, so Shearer would do absolutely anything necessary to further his cause. It's what made him, briefly, so great.

 

In the opinion of many the reason, as Michael Hann noted, is because the club had become an "adjunct of his ego". You suspect Shearer knew he was gone at the very highest level - and a cynic would attribute his decision to retire from international football in 2000, ostensibly to focus on Newcastle, to this as well - and needed to fuel his ego in other ways. Shearer knew he could do no wrong; that, if he said jump, 40,000 Geordies would say, "Howay". Unsurprisingly, he fed off that.

 

As did they. The fusion and the delusion suited both parties. Whereas Blackburn fans have moved on from being dumped, and still regard - and you'll like this - Simon Garner as Mr Blackburn, Newcastle fans are so in thrall to Shearer that, as Simon Barnes noted, the club cannot move on until Shearer has had his stint as manager.

 

The peculiar psyche of Newcastle, which encourages the fans to deify weaklings like Kevin Keegan and run proper professionals like Sam Allardyce out of town, means that they crave a hero who ticks certain basic boxes, and Shearer did that. In return he got an adoration entirely disproportionate to his achievements, and a reputation that consequently stayed intact despite compelling evidence to the contrary.

 

Which leaves only one problem. Shearer left Blackburn because he wanted to win trophies, yet at Newcastle the closest he came was being a fly on the wall during Arsenal and Manchester United's FA Cup final processions of 1998 and 1999. David May has more championship medals than Shearer. It was not supposed to be like this.

 

Shearer's signing was supposed to push Newcastle on from the heartbreaking failure of 1995-96 yet, though they finished second in his first season, they never mounted a significant title challenge. Shearer, and Newcastle, revised their expectations as time went on, which allowed them to present a picture of perfect, contented unison. Maybe that's truly how they felt. But for many of us, Shearer as we want to remember him - by some distance the greatest English centre-forward most of us have ever seen - will always be associated with blue-and-white halves, not black-and-white stripes.

 

Brilliant.

 

I was at Rovers first game in the premiership - away at Crystal Palace and Shearer scored two amazing goals and got better from there.

 

We had his best years - no doubt.

 

The manner of his leaving (in my mind at least) has been forgotten, and I will rmember the player he was.

 

Jack Walker refused to let him join Manchester United and so he left for NUFC.

 

As for Garner...... he is a legend at Ewood and only one of a few that comes close to Shearer.

Edited by bluepeter1875

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Do you really mean to tell us that when the rest of the nation thinks of Shearer, they think of Blackburn? Deluded.

That is an annoying reality also though. Shearer is too often not remembered enough for what he was at Rovers. I love the phrasing "some sort of demented machine", it's so appropriate. I was lucky enough to witness almost his entire Blackburn career and it was simply ridiculous.

 

He was a great player for us, fucking amazing for them.

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Do you really mean to tell us that when the rest of the nation thinks of Shearer, they think of Blackburn? Deluded.

That is an annoying reality also though. Shearer is too often not remembered enough for what he was at Rovers. I love the phrasing "some sort of demented machine", it's so appropriate. I was lucky enough to witness almost his entire Blackburn career and it was simply ridiculous.

 

He was a great player for us, fucking amazing for them.

 

Spot on.

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I think we all realise Shearer was nowhere near as prolific for us than he was for Blackurn, where his goals to game ration was ridiculously good. However he played in a weaker team, had a couple of bad injuries, and spent half his time here the wrong side of 30, so it's no surprise. But let's not allow these facts to get in the way of clueless journalism.

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Also his goal ratio slightly off one every two games is considered excellent for a "goal poacher", but he was definitley more than that. He could pass, cross and hold the ball up well, was superb in the air and scored from all over the pitch. Admittedly, plenty of his goals were penalties, but to take that many penalties and only miss about five (?) in his career is insanely good.

 

I think what was more disappointing was probably his England contribution after Euro 1996.

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