Silence keeps Shearer’s options open

ALAN Shearer has not ruled out the possibility of working for Mike Ashley again as Newcastle United manager despite the immense frustration he has felt this summer.

Alan Shearer

ALAN Shearer has not ruled out the possibility of working for Mike Ashley again as Newcastle United manager despite the immense frustration he has felt this summer.

Although Shearer’s close friend Rob Lee intimated this week that Shearer was fed up with waiting for the job to be offered to him after last season’s eight-game stint, the former Magpies skipper remains keen to take on the challenge of guiding United back into the Premier League. And, while his relationship with Ashley and Newcastle’s managing director Derek Llambias has been soured by the constant confusion and speculation surrounding the still unresolved takeover saga, there is a chance Shearer will return to St James’s Park even if the club is not sold.

The Journal understands that Shearer has not ruled anything out at this stage and his public silence on the issue is a calculated attempt to keep every option open to him. Shearer knows he will be instantly offered the manager’s job if his friend Barry Moat finally completes a protracted takeover bid, but he could also accept the job if Moat is offered a place on the board and Ashley stays as owner.

The damage done is not irreversible and both men are pragmatic enough to realise it could be in their interests to settle their differences amicably in order for Newcastle to continue the vast improvements overseen by caretaker manager Chris Hughton. Discussions between Moat and Ashley have resumed this week and it is interesting to note they are talking face to face with no sign of any animosity despite the weeks of delays and broken deadlines.

The biggest stumbling block remains the size of United’s overdraft with Barclays Bank, but the chances of a breakthrough have been significantly

enhanced by the size of Newcastle’s crowds this season.

Moat’s business plan was based on crowds of around 25,000 in the Championship, which means he has new leverage with the bank who want to slash the £30m overdraft offered to Championship clubs to just £10m.

Should those crowds continue this season, Newcastle finances will be in a far healthier state than anyone envisaged following relegation, which will help Moat’s argument for the bank to treat Newcastle as a special case.

Meanwhile, Hughton is happy to welcome Nicky Butt back into the squad for the first time this season after he suffered a dislocated thumb against Darlington in pre-season.

Butt’s return to fitness has given his manager a rare problem at St James’s Park – a selection headache – as Hughton continues to look at potential signings to strengthen the squad.

He said: “Nicky Butt is available for selection and injury free. We’re delighted to have him back. He is a player of vast experience and has been involved with the first team the entire time he has been at the club.

“It’s always a bonus to welcome a player like that back into the squad because he brings so much to the dressing room with his experience. He is a fantastic person to have around.

“It’s also given me a selection problem, but when we have a tight squad like ours the more players you have fit and available the better. We are still looking at possible loan signings but there is nothing to report at this stage.”

CARDIFF chairman Peter Ridsdale has revealed the new contract on offer to midfielder Joe Ledley is a four-year deal that will almost double his salary.

Ledley and his advisors received the terms just over a week ago as Cardiff, who host Newcastle on Sunday, look to bring a positive conclusion to the long-running saga. Ridsdale said: “I have put to Joe Ledley a four-year contract which probably doubles his wages and does have an escape clause if a Premier League club comes in.”

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