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Alan Hansen's column

Alan Hansen
By Alan Hansen
BBC Sport football expert

I spoke to Alan Shearer on Wednesday morning to wish him luck as Newcastle's new manager.

He'll need a little, but there are several key aspects to his character that make me think he will succeed.

Throughout the game, Shearer was renowned for being a consummate professional: first in to training, last out. As a player he led by example. Today's footballers still respect him for that.

If you get a manager who comes into the dressing-room who is in any way weak, or who wasn't the best trainer or the most dedicated, the current players will see that as an excuse to not be the best trainers or most dedicated themselves.

Because of the reputation that precedes him, that won't be the problem for Alan. He'll walk into the dressing room and command respect. The problem will be getting the best out of the players, and to get them playing as a team.

Alan Shearer
"Alan Shearer is ultra-competitive in everything he does"

There's no simple fix. Alan's watched a lot of Newcastle this season and has his own ideas on how they should be playing and who should be playing, what the best team is and the best formation is, and as a manager that's where you earn your corn.

It will help Al that he's a good person to be around. He's funny and he's a laugh, and he was renowned for that in the Blackburn dressing-room and the Newcastle dressing-room.

In the production room for Match of the Day, for years and years Gary Lineker and I would laugh at anything and everything. Alan joined that band and was right in the middle of it.

That ability to make a situation fun, and to have people like you, can be very important for a manager. You need the best players to want to be part of your team, and feel like they're part of something special.

When the serious stuff needs to be done, however - and matches in the bottom three are a serious business - that's the way Alan was and will be.

When you're on the pitch, you have to be ultra-professional and ultra-competitive. Alan is ultra-competitive in everything he does.

He'll take advice from whoever he has alongside him, but ultimately he'll make his own decision about team selection and team formation.

That's the way you've got to be. The players will respond to that and the crowd will too.

He knows the game inside-out, but he'll need someone with him who has coaching experience. He'll have specific ideas on what's going wrong and what's needed to put it right, but coaching is knowing how to take a session - and Alan doesn't have that yet because he's never done it before.

What he could do is take the strikers on their own, or take the midfielders, tell them what they're doing wrong and show them what they should be doing.

That's the easy part. But he'll need people with him who have hands-on coaching experience.

As a player you pick up ideas off every manager you work with. Each manager is different, has their own ways of dealing with players or getting involved in training, but most managers Al worked under were very single-minded.

Kenny Dalglish and Alan Shearer
Shearer with Kenny Dalglish, who managed him at both Blackburn and Newcastle

It was their way or you don't do it, and it will be the same with Alan. He is a very single-minded guy, and that will be vitally important in the days ahead.

There's a lot of hard work to be done now, on the training ground and with the players.

In the eight games he has left, he can't bring any new faces in on the playing side. In some ways that simplifies his task.

He can't worry about how he might fare in the transfer market. At the same time, of course, it means that he has to work with what he's been left with.

The players are responsible for the position they're in, but Alan has to get them playing and playing for each other.

No-one's saying it's an easy task. It's a mammoth task. But Newcastle are in a much better position at the end of this week than they were at the start.

Alan Hansen was talking to BBC Sport's Tom Fordyce.



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see also
Shearer confirmed as Magpies boss
01 Apr 09 |  Newcastle
Reaction to Shearer's appointment
01 Apr 09 |  Newcastle
Predict Newcastle's final games
01 Apr 09 |  Football
Shearer 'rejects Newcastle role'
29 Nov 08 |  Newcastle
Kinnear back home after surgery
22 Feb 09 |  Newcastle
West Brom 2-3 Newcastle
07 Feb 09 |  Premier League
Kinnear delays signing new deal
05 Feb 09 |  Newcastle


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