Duff: I'm staying at Newcastle
Damien Duff has vowed to remain at Newcastle United after his own goal sealed the Magpies relegation from the Barclays Premier League.
And the winger wants Alan Shearer to become manager on a full-time basis despite his failure to keep United in the top flight after an eight-game spell at the helm. Duff inadvertently deflected a first-half shot from Aston Villa's stand-in skipper Gareth Barry past Newcastle goalkeeper Steve Harper to doom his side to a 1-0 reverse yesterday at Villa Park.
It meant Newcastle finished in the bottom three but Duff is keen to help the club regain their Premier League status at the first attempt. Duff said: "I'm as loyal as they come and, whether the gaffer stays or goes, I'd love to try and get Newcastle back up into the Premier League.
"I don't know what words can describe the way I feel. I'm devastated. The lads haven't tasted relegation apart from me at Blackburn and Nicky Butt at Birmingham. When it happened at Blackburn, I wasn't planning on seeing it again in my career. It's not a nice feeling.
"No disrespect to the Championship, but Newcastle are too big a club to be down there. I plan on being straight back up (in the Premier League) after next season."
As regards the own goal, Duff said: "You think, 'why me?' But I'm a big man, and I've been around for a while now, so I'm going to have to get over it. I'll be thinking about it for a long, long time, but what can you do? That's football. You can't dwell on disappointments in your career. You have to move on. I think we've had a lot of bad luck, but at times in a season, you do make your own luck."
Duff is convinced Shearer, who will decide on his future after talks later this week with club owner Mike Ashley, can bring the good times back to Newcastle after working with him for the past couple of months.
He said: "I've loved working with him. It's been a proper, proper football club for eight weeks, and it's about time. It's just disappointing we couldn't stay up for him and the fans. I think he's been brilliant even though we haven't got the results to keep us up.
"It's the first time in a long while that this place has felt like a proper football club. Things are done right and it's been a breath of fresh air. If there's one man to get us back up, it's Alan Shearer."
Newcastle defender Steven Taylor admitted: "It's the worst feeling I've had as a professional footballer. It's the worst day in our careers. The dressing room was like a funeral afterwards . Everybody was devastated. I've got the European Championships with England Under-21s to focus on now. That's all I can do, but this is something I'll never, ever forget.
"The 3,000 Newcastle fans who came down to Villa Park are the reason you play. It's got to be an honour to play for Newcastle United Football Club. No matter who you are, what club you have played for, you've got to give it 100 per cent every single game. It can't be like the last 10 months, when it hasn't been good enough.
"I know there will be changes at this football club, but I don't know what's going to happen. As players, we haven't got a clue. But I'd just ask the fans to stick with us next year. We'll be giving everything to get the club back up where it belongs."