Shearer's fears on pre-season training return

ALAN Shearer will not be attending a meeting with Newcastle owner Mike Ashley in London today and United’s manager-in-waiting fears he will not be able to take control of the team for the start of pre-season training.

Alan Shearer

ALAN Shearer will not be attending a meeting with Newcastle owner Mike Ashley in London today and United’s manager-in-waiting fears he will not be able to take control of the team for the start of pre-season training.

Shearer has never had any intention of travelling to the capital to discuss matters with Newcastle’s want-away owner and no meeting was planned for the end of the week as Seymour Pierce continue to negotiate with a number of groups who have shown genuine interest in buying the club.

Instead, Shearer will wait for managing director Derek Llambias’s return to Newcastle on Tuesday before asking for any fresh updates on his bid to become permanent manager.

However, United’s former captain is as determined as ever to become manager and is confident he will be offered the job once the new owners have emerged.

A source close to Shearer said: “There are two groups talking to Seymour Pierce, maybe even three now and things are moving along, but there was never a meeting in London to decide anything on Friday.”

Although significant progress has made been made in terms of a takeover, the frustrating saga will almost certainly drag into another week as the two consortia leading the race to buy the club continue to look at how they are going to bankroll it following the financial catastrophe caused by relegation to the Championship.

United’s wage bill devoured almost 70% of the club’s turnover in the Premier League and this is the major stumbling block to any deal as the interested groups have to work out how they are going to not only find the £100m to buy the club, but also the money needed to stabilise its finances and ensure there is money to spend to strengthen the squad.

Nevertheless, those discussions have advanced over the last few days and, while false hope may have been given following inaccurate reports Shearer was set to be offered the job today, the takeover process continues to move in the right direction.

The strict non-disclosure agreements signed by the serious bidders ensures none are able to discuss the takeover process.

While progress may seem slow on the outside, sources close to the deal have suggested an announcement could still be imminent.

Shearer, though, has almost resigned himself to the fact he will not be installed as manager before the players return to the training ground next week.

That will mean Chris Hughton is asked to oversee the important early fitness work as he is the only key member of the

coaching staff which ended last season in the dugout with a contract at this stage.

Meanwhile, Newcastle’s out-of-contract defender David Edgar is poised to join newly-promoted Burnley, even though he initially thought he was going to sign a new deal at St James’s Park and play in the Championship.

The versatile Edgar, unhappy with the terms of a new contract offer at St James’s Park, had held talks with another club moving up from the Championship, Birmingham City.

But with discussions at St Andrew’s having stalled, Burnley boss Owen Coyle has moved in for the 22-year-old, who is keen to play regular first-team football after three years as a peripheral member of the squad at Newcastle.

MARK Hughes is preparing to ditch at least a dozen members of last season’s Manchester City squad.

Hughes knows he is facing the acid test of his management skills next term following the decision of City’s Abu Dhabi-based backers to release substantial transfer funds.

Already Gareth Barry, Roque Santa Cruz and Stuart Taylor have arrived at Eastlands for a combined cost of £30m.

Given City are also favourites to sign Carlos Tevez and have been heavily linked with Everton defender Joleon Lescott as well as Barcelona front-man Samuel Eto’o, it is clear the Blues’ spending is not complete yet.

Bulgarian Valeri Bojinov, who has endured two seasons ruined by injury since being signed by Sven-Goran Eriksson and is attracting interest from Wolfsburg.

City needed a bit of extra time to bring in Benjani from Portsmouth 18 months ago but the Zimbabwe star is now surplus to requirements, along with Darius Vassell, Ched Evans and Jo, who could be used as bait to get Lescott from Everton.


David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer