FRUSTRATED Alan Shearer is running out of patience with the Newcastle United hierarchy, according to his close friend Rob Lee.
United’s all-time top goalscorer remains “desperate” to regain control at St James’s Park but has watched in dismay as his plans to rebuild the club have slowly unravelled over a summer of poisonous inaction.
Shearer began marking the cards of his top summer targets in the first weeks of the close season but saw another player slip through his fingers yesterday with Manchester City striker Ched Evans close to finalising a move to United’s Championship rivals Sheffield United.
That blow came after another Shearer target, Fraizer Campbell, signed for Sunderland a fortnight ago.
That has heightened Shearer’s frustration and Lee, a close ally during his playing days who remains in daily contact, has warned that time is running out to appoint a man who is the clear supporters’ favourite to take over.
Given his relationship with Shearer, Lee’s words are a timely warning shot to Mike Ashley and Derek Llambias, who have effectively mothballed the club until a takeover is completed. With Ashley desperate to sell up as soon as possible, the club are not in the market to strengthen the team and the feeling persists that it should be the new owners who make a decision on whether to appoint Shearer or not.
But there has been little or no progress on that front in the last fortnight and investment banker Keith Harris, who is leading efforts to broker the sale of the club, is currently on holiday.
It leaves a worrying impasse that, according to Lee, has left Shearer close to breaking point with the current regime.
“I speak to Alan every day and he’s frustrated, to say the least. He’s coming to the end of his tether now,” the former Newcastle midfielder said at the launch of his Fortress Wealth Management firm.
“He’s waited for ages and been told that things were due to happen but nothing has and he’s very frustrated.
“He organised all the pre-season games at the end of last season but he also had targets in mind that he wanted to bring in to the club, but now it looks like he will miss out on them.
“I’m amazed he hasn’t already told Newcastle that he doesn’t want the job any more but there will come a point where he says: ‘You’re too late’.
“He still wants the job desperately but
you can’t expect someone like that to wait forever. He’s not daft and they’ve had ample time to sort something out.”
While Shearer waits, Chris Hughton is in control and the caretaker boss admitted for the first time this week that he has begun planning for the start of the season. With three wins in three pre-season games, the board are understood to be happy with his contribution – but the positive impact of the victories should be mitigated by the modest opposition.
The argument persists in the boardroom that appointing Shearer might damage their leverage with interested parties – hence the decision not to hand him control at the club. But that doesn’t wash with Lee, who fears that United are heading down the same route as Leeds United.
Lee saw this week’s announcement that the club had sold nearly 25,000 season tickets as a worrying sign of supporter discontent at the way things have been allowed to drift since relegation. “Only half the stadium has been sold to season tickets and for a club the size of Newcastle that is bad,” he said.
“They’re in danger of being in the same situation as Leeds, who are stuck in League One and can’t get out. It could take a long time to sort themselves out but nothing can happen unless the club is sold. Some of the players don’t want to play in that division but they’re being paid £50,000-a-week and you can’t sustain that.”
HARRY Redknapp admits he may have to enter the market for a defender after a series of injuries left him without one fit centre-half.
Spurs had been favourites to sign England international Peter Crouch but Redknapp concedes that injuries to Michael Dawson, Jonathan Woodgate and Ledley King mean a move for a defender has now become his priority.
Redknapp revealed that King “hasn’t kicked a ball all pre-season” after his long-term knee injury flared up again on his return from the summer break.
Former Newcastle defender Woodgate has been sent to a specialist in America to look at a groin injury while Redknapp also revealed that former Nottingham Forest defender Dawson will miss the start of the season with an Achilles injury.