Spending time with Alan Shearer on a matchday, away from the cameras, is an experience like no other.
In football, you can sometimes get individuals who used to represent a certain club, who exaggerate how fussed they are about their results. Alan is different. There is no point trying to talk to him when we are on the set of Match of the Day together if Newcastle are playing as he is so emotionally invested in their match.
If Newcastle win, everything is good. If they lose, forget about it. His mood is dictated by the fortunes of the club he adores, so on the day the club’s takeover went through I sent him a message to see how he was doing. He replied, simply, with a stream of smiley face emojis.
Newcastle’s results dictate the mood of Alan Shearer, who is pleased with the club’s takeover
There is a sense of relief and an ability to dream again with the investment from Saudi Arabia
Alan epitomises every Newcastle fan right now. The sense of relief, the ability to be able to dream again – it has all been unlocked by this new investment from Saudi Arabia. The landscape has changed. Don’t think, however, they no longer face any problems.
The first challenge is to gain credibility. I’m sure there are plenty of fans who believe just because they now have the funds to buy Messi, Mbappe and Neymar, that they will buy them. It doesn’t work like that – not by a long way.
To open the floodgates to the top of the transfer market, they need to sign a genuine world class player but being able to pay transfer fees and wages doesn’t guarantee anything.
The first challenge now facing the club is gaining credibility (pictured: Amanda Staveley, right)
Take Everton, as an example. They have spent more than £500million on players (with a net spend of over £210m), trying to break into the top four under owner Farhad Moshiri but the biggest names they have landed remain Wayne Rooney and James Rodriguez.
With the greatest respect to them, the Rooney they got in 2017 was not the Rooney at the peak of his powers and Rodriguez was not the Golden Boy of the 2014 World Cup.
Everton have found it difficult to get that one player who will be the magnet for others who are approaching their peak years, the one who can be the catalyst for change.
It’s why Robinho was so crucial for Manchester City in 2008. He wasn’t the best signing of the Abu Dhabi era in terms of what he did on the field – though I am adamant things would have been different had he come a little later – but his arrival made people see us in a different light.
Robinho (centre) was crucial to Manchester City at the start of the Abu Dhabi era back in 2008
Suddenly we were able to attract people such as Nigel De Jong, who was transformative; 12 months later we had got Carlos Tevez and Patrick Vieira, names that ordinarily would not have been in our market. You can talk about money but that alone won’t convince a player to move.
I can imagine there is great excitement in Newcastle’s dressing room about the potential journey they may go on but – and this is a brutal fact of life – many of those who are there now, thinking about the good times, won’t be staying to be a part of it.
When your club has the funds to buy anyone in the world, the pressure on you to perform is staggering. Football is ruthless at the top and you begin operating with the thought that one mistake and you could be out of there in a flash.
I backed my ability to remain for the long haul – Joe Hart and I called ourselves ‘the survivors’ – but, unfortunately, it’s not going to be the case for many of the current squad. How many of them would get into the starting line-ups of a Champions League team now? There’s your answer.
Richards has also reflected on his struggle with staying at City after their own lavish takeover
What Newcastle will also find different now, is how they are perceived by other clubs, almost overnight. People used to have a soft spot for City but after 2008, it all changed. You have to face animosity and jealousy – and I’m not talking solely about fans with rival fans here.
We used to get digs regularly from away team players during games, so desperate were they to downplay what we were doing.
‘You’d be in Division Three without this ****ing oil money,’ I was told plenty of times; ‘Nothing but a ****ing oil club!’ and ‘There’s only one proper club in Manchester,’ were other frequent comments. Opponents, really, will do anything to get inside your head.
This will all be coming to Newcastle, it’s guaranteed. Many won’t like the fact Saudi Arabian money is the driving force behind this and they are going to find games become a lot more difficult because opponents start trying that bit harder to beat you.
Newcastle are guaranteed better football and their passionate supporters will be entertained
Things will only start coming together for them if they make the right decisions and the right appointments to the key roles – and even then there is no certainty they will become champions within five to ten years, as it has been fancifully claimed.
When investment came to Manchester City, we only had two teams – Chelsea and Manchester United – to get past to reach the top. Those three clubs are in front of Newcastle, as are Liverpool, while there is so much depth to the league in general.
With investment and better players, Newcastle are guaranteed better football and the passionate fans will be entertained and I’m pleased for those supporters, that their ambition will now be matched by the owners.
There will come a point, most likely, when they will fight for trophies but there are no guarantees of success. The takeover removed one headache but, in the quest for success, there will be many more.
BRUCE DESERVES RESPECT
One thing that frustrates me greatly about modern football is the venom and abuse that has now replaced constructive criticism and debate.
I say this in light of the situation around Steve Bruce’s position. Whilst it’s been confirmed that he will take charge of his Newcastle United side against Tottenham at St James Park, it seems inevitable he will be replaced as Newcastle manager soon.
He surely knows it, we know it, the new owners know it.
Steve Bruce will soon manage his 1000th game in English football – an incredible achievement
Indeed, I was surprised it took until Friday for the club to clarify that he would be in the dugout, but perhaps ultimately, the owners have shown some class in allowing him to reach the milestone of his 1,000th game as manager.
Supporters are well entitled to speak their mind about the way a team plays and Steve’s style is clearly at odds with what most of Newcastle’s crowd want. There is no harm whatsoever in discussing formations, form or whatever. This is what makes the game and why we talk about it so much.
What I cannot abide, however, is the spite and the venom that seems to accompany everything far too much that is said about Bruce. Why has it become so personal?
This is a man who come Sunday evening, will have managed 1,000 games in English football – that is an incredible achievement, not to forget what he achieved as a player in captaining Manchester United to the top-flight title. Whether you like him or not, the one thing he deserves is respect.
MICAH’S TEAM OF THE WEEK
This column wouldn’t be complete without recognising the outstanding start to the season my local club, Harrogate Town, have made.
A 6-1 win over Scunthorpe last Saturday sees Simon Weaver’s team in second place in League Two and there is a buzz about the town over what they have achieved so far.
Weaver has been in charge for over 12 years making him the longest-serving boss in the top five leagues and he’s doing a great job.
Harrogate Town have made an outstanding start to the season under manager Simon Weaver
There was a record attendance of 3,180 seven days ago and that reflects the enthusiasm for them.
I was considering attending myself but I had commitments elsewhere and couldn’t make it.
I’m hoping to get to a game soon and give my support because the story of what they have done and where they have come from is amazing. Long may it continue.