Alan Shearer has warned Mike Ashley and potential investors in Newcastle United that the club is at a defining moment in its future, stressing the importance that they now get it right to unearth our ‘huge’ untapped potential.
Writing in his weekly column in The Sun, Big Al admits he “could not help but celebrate” when he heard the news that Ashley had put the club up for sale, insisting that it is time for him to release the chains he has attached to the club for so many years if we are to realise our undoubted potential.
To begin with, he discusses Ashley’s mistakes, the misconception of NUFC fans’ expectations and what we hope to see from potential new owners if and when they takeover:
“He (Ashley) has held Newcastle back for too long,”
“Former Crystal Palace chairman Simon Jordan spouted absolute nonsense this week that Ashley was never going to be accepted at the club because he was a southerner. What? It didn’t seem to hold back the affection the fans at St James’ Park had for Rob Lee or Les Ferdinand!
“The reason Ashley has been disliked during his 10-year tenure is because he has not invested enough to realise the club’s potential.
“Trying to change the name of the ground, plus his poor treatment of certain managers have not helped either. Nor has selling the best players.
I have never quite got why he bought the club in the first place. It has made him unhappy and everyone else connected with it for that matter.
“This long-held view by people from outside the club that Newcastle fans have unrealistic expectations of where their club should be always leaves me perplexed.
“All we have ever wanted is the hope our club can challenge the very best, hope that they can win a trophy, hope that our dreams and desire for the club can be matched by those owning and running it. Much in the same way they were by Sir John Hall and Freddy Shepherd.
“Now the hope is that a new owner can match them again.”
With this in mind, Shearer then offered some sound advice to potential buyers such as Staveley, urging her or whoever takes over at the helm to back ‘world-class’ manager Rafa Benitez – believing his future at the club could depend on new owners arriving before the season is out:
“I don’t know potential buyer Amanda Staveley, or what her plans are for the club, but I know what they should be.”
“They should be to back a world-class manager to the hilt. Because the club has one in Rafa Benitez.
“My fear is that if a takeover does not go through by the end of this season, he will be lost to Newcastle.
“Benitez has them up in seventh place. Imagine what he could be doing with some serious financial backing.
“What any owner of the club will get is a guaranteed passionate fan base that will support and work with anyone who has the best interests of Newcastle United at heart.
“I remember hundreds of thousands lining a bus parade I was part of twice – and that was when we had lost FA Cup finals. You get 52,000 in the ground every other week, no matter what is happening.”
Shearer may not have won a Premier League title with us, but he was part of an era where we were competing at the top, playing Champions League football and being a club capable of attracting some big names to St Jame’s Park.
Those days seemed long gone if recent years are anything to go by, with more relegations than cup runs or top 6 finishes to speak of over the last decade, however Shearer firmly believes we have the potential to be back amongst the big boys in England once again:
“The potential to be tapped is huge. My son Will is probably sick of hearing me say this, but I want him to experience what Newcastle can be – and it can be huge.
“It is one of those clubs whose influence goes well beyond the confines of the ground. The spill over from St James’ Park goes deep into the community. It can lift the city or leave it flat. It is that which Benitez loves so much.
“Right now, Newcastle is at one of those moments in its history where things can go one of two ways. I don’t want to think of the wrong turn that could be made.
“There is a book called ‘Touching Distance’ about how close Newcastle got to winning the Premier League back in 1996. They may never come that close again. But all Newcastle fans want is the belief it COULD happen again. To be challenging. To have a club and a team they can be proud of once more.
“The door is now open for someone to realise that – I just hope they can walk through it.”
Some inspiring and spot on words from none other than the great Alan Shearer here – a man who knows Newcastle United football club as well as anyone.
Time for Mike Ashley and any potential new owner to take his advice!