Shearer set for contract talks
Alan Shearer was today ready to open talks about launching his career as Newcastle manager in earnest. Having dispatched his players on their summer break with fitness plans, following a short meeting yesterday, the 38-year-old was waiting to hear what owner Mike Ashley and managing director Derek Llambias have to say about the future.
But much of the talking will come from the former Magpies captain, who will demand things are done his way if he is to attempt to drag the club back into the Premier League. It is understood Shearer will be offered up to four years, but will seek assurances he will be in complete control of player recruitment if he is to set about the task of rebuilding Newcastle.
Relegation will mean a significant number of redundancies off the field - around 150 club employees were warned last month their jobs would be on the line if the club slipped into The Championship. But it will also mean a total overhaul of a squad that has pushed the wage bill to in excess of £70m.
Skipper Michael Owen's £103,000-a-week deal draws to a close at the end of next month, while an option on Mark Viduka's contract is unlikely to be taken up. However, the likes of Alan Smith, Joey Barton, Obafemi Martins, Geremi, Claudio Cacapa and a host of other high earners will also need to be offloaded if the club are to slash their expenditure.
More worryingly, Shearer has been saddled with players inherited from Dennis Wise's forays into the transfer market, with Fabricio Coloccini, Jonas Gutierrez and Xisco among those whose sell-on value is significantly less than what was paid for them.
Ashley, who knows relegation could cost the club around £50m in lost revenue, is also aware Shearer's appointment could help to limit a fans' backlash, with the prospect of thousands of empty seats at St James' Park next season certain to reduce the club's income further.