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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Shearer now ready to take over at Newcastle?

Newcastle United legend Alan Shearer could be ready to accept the job as the club's manager.

Stuart Pearceq

Shearer's trademark celebration

The Premier League's all-time record goalscorer, touted as a future boss long before he hung up his boots at the end of the 2005/06 season, has concentrated on media work.

Glenn Roeder, Sam Allardyce and Kevin Keegan have all vacated the manager's job at St James' Park since Shearer stopped playing but on each occasion he has rebuffed the chance to take over.

It was thought unlikely Shearer would take the job while there was such uncertainty over the future of the club with owner Mike Ashley desperate to sell. Interim manager Joe Kinnear has steadied the ship but there is still the belief that Magpies remain in limbo.

Former Newcastle player and close friend of Shearer, Rob Lee now says Shearer will walk away from his contract with the BBC to manage his hometown club. And Lee himself would be more than happy to take a post in Shearer's coaching team.

"I can honestly say, yes, Alan Shearer will manage Newcastle,'' Lee told The Mag, Newcastle's leading fanzine. "Until now I would have just said that he would one day but I finally believe that he would tomorrow if the job is how he wants it, without all the silly games going on that have killed it.''

Lee, however, believes Ashley, who put the club up for sale following the furore surrounding Keegan's resignation in September, could win over the fans by appointing Shearer as boss.

"Mike Ashley would solve a lot of his problems by appointing Alan and accepting that mistakes have been made,'' Lee added. "Alan could be a priceless get out of jail card. Now is the time to make the club what we all want.''

Lee, who spent 10 seasons playing for Newcastle, admitted he would consider returning alongside Shearer.

"Yes I would love to be part of it,'' he added.

Mancini hoping to land Real Madrid rescue mission

Former Inter Milan boss Roberto Mancini has revealed he would jump at the chance to coach Real Madrid if they decide to part ways with Bernd Schuster.

Mancini, sacked by Inter at the end of last season despite having just guided the Nerazzurri to a third successive Scudetto, is reported target of the Spanish champions.

"I wish that was true," Mancini said of the speculation. "But I know nothing. I can only hope that these rumours turn out to be true."

Madrid were knocked out of the Copa del Rey in the fourth round third division Real Union before slipping to a 1-0 league defeat at Real Valladolid at the weekend.

Schuster, who led Madrid to the Primera Liga title last season, received a vote of confidence from the club's board yesterday although he remains under immense pressure heading into this weekend's game with Recreativo Huelva.

Charlton tips Ronaldo for another 'fantastic' season

Sir Bobby Charlton is pleased Cristiano Ronaldo has re-discovered his dead-ball technique - and believes the Manchester United winger is ready to rack up the goals again.

Ronaldo took his tally to 101 for the club with two in last weekend's 5-0 Premier League victory against Stoke.

For the first time this season, both came from free-kicks - leaving goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen baffled.

Ronaldo is now on nine for the campaign - he scored a remarkable 43 last season - but he did not get going until mid-September following an ankle operation.

Charlton, who scored 249 goals in 758 appearances for United, is delighted to see that integral facet of the Portugal winger's game return.

He said: "Cristiano's free-kicks have not been going in - but thankfully they did last weekend. His rate of scoring is fantastic. He had a great season last time around and is heading for another one.''

Real Madrid have made no secret of the fact they would like to have Ronaldo on board, but he has decided to stay put.

Charlton claims Ronaldo is at the best club to hone his talents and is working with the best manager to do that.

"I think Cristiano thought about it and realised this is the best place," he added. "With the best manager? Absolutely.''

United are playing catch-up in a bid to retain their title and lie eight points behind leaders Chelsea but with a game in hand.

Next up is a difficult trip on Saturday to an Aston Villa side who beat Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium in their last match.

Charlton, however, is optimistic about United's chances in the long term.

He conceded: "We have some catching up to do in the league, and Villa will be a hard match.

"But we are playing well - and if we are lucky with injuries and suspensions, we should be okay. We have some exciting players, and things are just beginning to happen.''

Vidic predicts strong second half from United

Nemanja Vidic is convinced Manchester United will show their true Premier League title credentials in the second half of the season.

Despite recording their biggest win of the season against Stoke on Saturday, United remain eight points adrift of pace-setters Chelsea and Liverpool - knowing they will probably slip even further behind before Christmas because their scheduled clash with Wigan on December 21 has been postponed due to the World Club Cup.

But Vidic remains unconcerned.

In each of his three years at Old Trafford, the Red Devils' form has improved markedly after the festive period.

The Serbian defender sees no reason why this season should be any different.

"I can only speak from experience - but after three years here, I know we are always better in the second half of the season,'' he said. "We pick up the flow, and our performances tend to improve. I hope it will be like that again.''

While Chelsea's credentials - if not Luiz Felipe Scolari's - at the end of an exhausting domestic campaign are already established, Liverpool remain an unknown quantity.

Many felt Rafael Benitez's side would challenge for the championship last term, only for the Anfield outfit to fall away badly after they were beaten by United in December.

Having avenged that loss and ended Chelsea's formidable home record already this term, Liverpool seem intent on lasting the pace.

But as Vidic knows only too well, performing at your highest level in April and May - when the pressure is at its most intense - is another matter entirely.

"It is always about the second half of the season,'' he said. "That is when the games are decisive. That is when it is really tough. It is hard to say how Liverpool will handle it. All we can do is keep as close as we can and then push forward.

"I am certainly not worried about the way we are playing - because we have done well in the last few games, even against Arsenal when we lost the match but our performance was good.''

Vidic certainly feels at home with United, contrary to speculation that erupted around his critique of the English weather.

While Manchester's climate is nothing to write home about, it is at least warmer than his previous home in Moscow - and Vidic is happy to confirm the north-west suits him just fine.

"I definitely feel settled here,'' he said. "It is unnerving for everyone when they move clubs. When I joined Red Star Belgrade as a young player it was two hours away by car. It felt like the end of the world and at first it was very hard.

"It was the same when I came to Manchester United. But you get used to it. I have more friends and I am used to the language. I really feel at home now.''

Mourinho bemoans image of Serie A abroad

Inter Milan coach Jose Mourinho believes Italian football needs to do a much better job of selling itself abroad.

Mourinho, who took the helm of the three-time defending champions Inter in the summer, said: "The fact is that Italian football as a product is not liked abroad.

"My family back in Portugal have to wait until midnight to watch a Serie A game while at seven in the evening they have to watch an ugly Getafe v Valladolid (Spanish Primera Liga). I also look at the Asian market where Serie A is not sold much."

Mourinho once matched wits with the likes of Manchester United's Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsenal's Arsene Wenger while guiding Chelsea, and he believes coaching in the Italian game is every bit as challenging.

"It's true that Italian football is difficult," said Mourinho. "It demands great preparation by a coach.

"Against Genoa, for example, I had to change three or four times my tactical approach and Genoa always adapted to my formula. For me as a coach, this is a fantastic show."