For details on how to contact our editorial and commercial departments, click here
Shearer fears more Tyneside transfer frustration
JUST when top attacking target Loic Remy was turning his back on a move to Tyneside, former skipper Alan Shearer warned that Newcastle United could miss out on more top players because of the club's strict wage structure.
Remy was on the verge of a £10m move to Queens Park Rangers last night after being offered almost double the weekly wage, albeit extremely substantial, he was due to pick up at St James' Park.
QPR, the Premier League's bottom club, have also thrown in the sweetener of a relegation clause, meaning he can leave for a set fee in the summer if Harry Redknapp fails to lead a successful fight against relegation to the Championship.
Remy's U-turn, Newcastle had been expecting him to move from Marseille by close of play today, has left manager Alan Pardew considering his options in the transfer market.
St Etienne's Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, thought to be available for around £7m, Lyon's Bafetimbi Gomis and Ajax' play-maker Siem de Jong are three of the players topping the list of alternatives. Nancy's Massadio Haidara was linked yesterday.
Two cheaper options, based closer to home, are Swansea's Danny Graham and West Brom's Peter Odemwingie, although at the age of 31 the latter does not fit in with Newcastle's push for younger players.
Shearer, captain of the club during an era when Newcastle would compete with the best around when it came down to paying wages, can see why owner Mike Ashley is reluctant to over-spend. That, he feels, could come at a price.
"It's a tricky one. If you don't pay the best wages or pay the going rate, you don't get the players. Simple as that," said Shearer. "If other teams are prepared to pay that, players will go there - you can't blame him (Remy) for doing that, can you?
"Playing in front of 18,000 fans rather than 52,000 might feel strange for him, though. If he does go to QPR I'm pretty sure he'll have a 'get out' clause if they get relegated. But that's the way the game goes, if you don't pay the going rate you don't get the players."
Shearer is an interested observer and has been keeping up-to-date with things knowing he has to pass comment as a pundit for BBC's Match of the Day on a regular basis.
After watching Newcastle slip down to within two points of the bottom three, with fewer points than the relegation season of 2008-09, after losing nine of their last 12 games, Shearer is not expecting too much too soon on the transfer front.
"They're desperate for a centre-forward and also a centre-half," said Shearer. "Whether they do or not remains to be seen. I don't believe anything until I see the player in a black and white shirt, not what I read.
"It always happens with Newcastle, that we're linked with a million players and for whatever reason we don't get them. I'll believe it when they're in the shirt.
"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 against Reading on Saturday, no doubt about that."
To make matters worse for Newcastle, there is the ongoing concern surrounding skipper Fabricio Coloccini. He is due to meet with the club today to discuss his request to leave.
Argentina's biggest selling daily newspaper, Clarin, reported yesterday that Coloccini's contract will be terminated today. That suggestion was rubbished by Newcastle sources last night, although Shearer said: "It would be a big blow if Coloccini were to leave."
New signings are vital for Newcastle's relatively small squad this month regardless of what happens with Coloccini.
And with Reading and Aston Villa, two teams below Newcastle, up next there is a strong chance that Newcastle will be in the bottom three by February.
Shearer said: "I'm very surprised by where they are. We all know they punched above their weight last year but they're better than what they're showing at the minute.
"At the minute I'm still saying that I believe they're too good to go down but if you were to ask me again in two games time I hope I still have that opinion. The next two games are crucial.
"Nothing surprises you in football, that's the way it is. No longer can Newcastle compete with the top five or six because financially they're not going to do that. I think that's there for everyone to see. You're not going to get that."
Former Newcastle United captain Alan Shearer was speaking after being joined as an ambassador for Speedflex by Paralympian Stephen Miller.
Miller, born with cerebral palsy and in a wheelchair, and Shearer could work alongside one another on the same machines after the innovative Speedflex system was brought over to the region by North-East businessman Graham Wylie.
Shearer said: "I could never do any upper body work because of my back, my ankle and my knee injuries and the strain on them and my joints. Speedflex is incredible. I get no stiffness, no pain. We can work as hard as we do and stay tremendously fit.
"I've said it a number of times: if only it was around when I was playing. One, it would have got my fitter quicker and two, it would have kept me fit.
"There were things I couldn't do when I was injured because of other injuries I've had but with this, you can do anything. You have seen with Stephen (Miller), you can get your heart rate up to whatever and that's the most important thing to keep fit."
* For more information and to try out the Speedflex system log on to www.speedflex.com in Jesmond, Newcastle. There are plans in place for Speedflex to be phased in across the country.