LONDON (Reuters) - Former striker Alan Shearer will return to Newcastle United as manager for the final eight games of the season, the struggling Premier League club said on Wednesday.
Shearer, the club’s record goal scorer with 206 goals in 404 appearances, takes over from the ailing Joe Kinnear with the immediate task of ensuring top flight survival.
“Like thousands of people in Newcastle, I desperately don’t want this club to go down and I’ll be working with the staff to try and prevent that,” Shearer told BBC radio.
“There is a nucleus of players here who can get this club out of trouble. It’s a tough, tough situation that Newcastle are in and I feel deeply for this club and believe I can help it.”
Managing director Derek Llambias told the club website (www.nufc.premiumtv.co.uk) everybody at Newcastle was delighted Shearer had taken the job.
“Already there is a buzz about the club and the city. The news has given everyone a massive boost,” he said.
Ian Dowie was confirmed as Shearer’s assistant while Dennis Wise has left his post of executive director of football, a departure that apparently paved the way for Shearer’s return.
Shearer, who played for his hometown club for 10 years before retiring in 2006, will begin working with the squad on Thursday before a news conference at St James Park.
Newcastle ruled out an “open stadium” on Thursday although thousands of Geordie fans are expected to descend on the club to greet the return of Shearer as they did when he signed as a player in 1996 from Blackburn Rovers.
The 38-year-old former England frontman is the fourth Newcastle manager during a turbulent season on Tyneside that is in grave danger of ending in relegation.
Kevin Keegan’s second stint as manager ended abruptly in September leading to a hate campaign against the club’s owner Mike Ashley and Wise. Kinnear was surprisingly chosen as Keegan’s replacement but he underwent heart surgery in February.
Chris Hughton, who has been in charge on a caretaker basis in Kinnear’s absence, will stay on as part of Shearer’s coaching staff, the club said.
It is unclear whether Kinnear still has a role to play, although the club’s website said Shearer’s appointment had been made while Kinnear “continues to recover at home.”
Shearer said he had not looked beyond the end of the season.
“This is for an eight-game spell, I haven’t looked any further than that, I promise you,” Shearer said. “Joe Kinnear is in the job at the moment and is recovering well from his operation and we wish him well.”
Newcastle are third from bottom of the Premier League, having won just once in 12 league games, and face Chelsea at home on Saturday.
Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by John Mehaffey/Rex Gowar