JOE Kinnear has become the latest Newcastle United manager to offer Alan Shearer a chance to learn the coaching trade under him.
Ever since Shearer retired from professional football in 2006, he has constantly been linked with the manager’s job at St James’s Park.
The 38-year-old was a player-coach under Glenn Roeder at United but despite making it clear he would one day like to manage the team, he has resisted invitations to return as a coach and is likely to do so again.
Kevin Keegan was the last to make the offer and his successor has now repeated it.
In a BBC interview to be broadcast today, Kinnear says: “I have the utmost respect for Shearer. The door is always open and if he is listening to this he is more than welcome to learn his trade here.
“I would be delighted if he wanted to come here two days a week and see for himself what football is all about.
“From Alan’s point of view he will be looking, more for the future than right now. Right now is a difficult time to come in, also in terms in injuries. Maybe he is biding his time.”
In his Press conference ahead of this afternoon’s trip to Chelsea, Kinnear voiced his frustration at the constant flow of stories linking Shearer with the job he currently holds. The ex-Wimbledon boss is only interim manager, however, and his contract becomes a monthly rolling one in December.
Kinnear has not been able to bring in any new coaches since taking the post after failing to persuade old friend Gerry Francis to leave Stoke City for a part-time role. He also realises he will never get the job full-time if the club’s new owners decide on the basis of a popularity contest between himself and either Shearer or Kevin Keegan.
“They are two idols that everybody loves up here, so I’m never going to be as popular as those two, and I’m not trying to be,” he admitted.
Kinnear’s credentials to be full-time manager are solid but the suspicion remains that if anyone does buy out owner Mike Ashley they could appoint one of the two former United captains as an instant public relations coup.
Kinnear faces a difficult team selection today, with striker Michael Owen keen to force his way back into the side. Some will view Obafemi Martins as the most under threat but the Nigerian tried to help his chances by insisting he and Owen can play together.
The 24-year-old is adamant it should not boil down to a choice of which diminutive, pacey striker to pair with the more physical Shola Ameobi.
“I enjoy playing with Shola and he is doing very well right now, but I enjoy playing with all the strikers here,” he stressed. “I’m confident I can work well with any of them. I know I have to keep scoring and playing well if I am going to stay in the team, especially now Michael is fit again.
“There are four or five of us competing for two places so it’s difficult for the manager to keep everyone happy, but we know getting the team out of trouble is the most important thing.
“I don’t agree when people say I can’t play with Michael. I can play with anyone.”
While Kinnear regards Owen as his best player, Martins and Ameobi have justified their selections with goals recently. “It is a difficult decision for the manager, but I think I’ve done enough,” said Martins. “Michael isn’t a big player and neither am I, but we offer different things to the team. We are not too similar.”
United are yet to decide if Joey Barton requires surgery on his medial knee ligaments but even if he does, the midfielder’s return is still expected to be the eight to 10 weeks initially diagnosed.
Meanwhile, Newcastle fans have been reminded that no alcohol will be permitted on trains coming back from London after this afternoon’s game.