Alan Shearer

Thirty goals in 63 international matches for England, a remarkable average of more than 20 goals a season in the Premier League and a league championship medal for unfashionable Blackburn Rovers – you’ve definitely done well for yourself. But could you do better?

Your decision to quit international football after the European Championships in the summer seems to signal that you are preparing yourself for the next stage of your career.

We must assume that you intend to become a manager. You have talked of your ambitions in this area and your team, Newcastle United, seems to be grooming you to take over from Bobby Robson. He is 67 and his departure will surely be sooner rather than later. So are you ready?

Throughout your playing career, you have been criticized for being boring. In your public persona, you have certainly tended to present a cold front. You have often been lampooned (occasionally by yourself) for relying on football cliches rather than saying anything interesting in media interviews.

But some people have looked deeper and seen that you have used platitudes as a defense. Fellow professionals describe you as witty, intelligent and amusing – qualities that you have played down in order to avoid controversy and to allow yourself to concentrate on playing.

When you become a manager, the media will want more from you than you ever gave them as a player. If you don’t give them stories or jokes or one-liners, they will feel that you are depriving them of their livelihood. And if your team starts performing badly, they will go in for the kill. They will tear your private life apart, ridicule your tactics and try to provoke rows between you and your players. Be prepared.

A stint playing club football abroad might have given you a more cosmopolitan worldview that could only be a benefit in management. Still, your international experience with England and quality as a player will give you the instant respect of your charges.

You have served under enough people to have learned what kind of management style will suit you. Ruud Gullit, Newcastle’s previous manager seemed to fail because he had been such a magnificent player. He was frustrated because his charges had no chance of being as good as he was. He became aloof and his relationship with his team disintegrated. There is certainly a lesson to be learnt there.

Newcastle United fans love you and the players hold you in the deepest respect. When you take over as a manager, you will be guaranteed an extended honeymoon period. Use this to work on your relationship with the press. Get it wrong and they’ll do their best to force you out of management. Get it right and, providing Kevin Keegan sticks around long enough, you could be the next manager of your country.

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