ALAN Shearer is one of the icons of the Premier League era, and having turned down Manchester United to sign for his boyhood club is one of the men often held up as a paragon of footballing loyalty.
But he is also a pragmatist, and he would not be drawn into criticism of Loïc Rémy for turning down the chance to play in front of bigger crowds at Newcastle for the lure of QPR’s fast bucks.
Indeed, he turned the issue on its head and questioned whether Newcastle need to adapt to bring in players of Rémy’s quality. He also queried whether talk of United targeting the top six was realistic given their financial blueprint.
“That’s the way the game goes, if you don’t pay the going rate you don’t get the players,” he told The Journal.
“Nothing surprises you in football, that’s the way it is. But when there was talk of Newcastle finishing in the top six again after last season... I think when I looked at that I thought that’s not realistic and people shouldn’t get carried away.
“No longer can Newcastle compete with the top five or six because financially they’re not going to do that. That’s there for everyone to see. You’re not going to get them doing that.
“It’s important they get out of their current situation. I still believe they will. The sooner they get some of their injuries back the better.”
United are actually worse off in terms of points than they were at the same stage in the campaign that ended with relegation.
Shearer was employed on an ultimately doomed mission to avoid relegation that year but does not see too many parallels, even if the performances haven’t been up to scratch.
“I can’t speak of how it is at the minute, I’m just going on what I see on the pitch. It hasn’t been great,” he said.
“You get what you deserve sometimes in football and at the minute they don’t deserve to be any higher. They’re not scoring enough goals, defensively they’ve been poor.
“Workrate? You can’t complain about that. When they’ve gone to Man United and Arsenal, I don’t think the workrate has been a problem. When that is the case, you’ve got a chance.”
A succession of bad news has followed since the opening of the January transfer window. Shearer is hopeful that skipper Fabricio Coloccini can at least be encouraged to stay at St James’ Park.
“Supporters need a bit of good news. It’s not been great, it’s been pretty poor for the fans. They’ll stick with the team, you can be guaranteed of that. Hopefully by Sunday they’ll have something to celebrate because it’s a big game, no doubt about that.”
“It would be a big blow if Coloccini were to leave. I know he struggled for the first 12 months but he’s been a really good player over the last few years. It would be a big blow if he was to leave.”
ALAN Shearer was speaking as Speed Flex were announced as the new sponsors of Paralympian Stephen Miller. For more information on the exercise system, go to www.speedflex.com
The ex-England captain said: “I could never do any upper body work because of my back, my ankle and my knees and the strain on them and my joints. This is incredible. I get no stiffness, no pain. We can work as hard as we do and stay tremendously fit.”