On this day, April 1, 2009: Newcastle United call on Alan Shearer in last-ditch effort to save chaotic season

Club legend was appointed with six games to go, but his presence could not provide the needed inspiration

Beta V.1.0 - Powered by automated translation

It was the last throw of the dice in a season already full of bitter acrimony, bad calls and catastrophic failures.

With eight Premier League games to go, Newcastle United had appointed record goalscorer and former captain Alan Shearer as their new manager, despite the fact the 38-year-old had no previous coaching experience.

Newcastle were in the bottom three having won one of past 12 league games, and Shearer, who scored 206 goals in 404 games for the club, admitted it was going to be “one hell of a battle” to keep the club up.

"There are very, very good players that are just lacking in confidence and it's up to myself and the rest of the staff to get the best out of them,” he said.

In that 2008-09 season, Newcastle owner Mike Ashley provided the perfect template of how not to run a football club, alienating managers, players and supporters alike.

Shearer was manager No 4 that campaign. Another local hero, Kevin Keegan, had started off with the reins but bailed out not long after the season had kicked off.

The man who taken the club agonisingly close to the title in the mid-1990s in his first spell at St James’ Park walked out in frustration at Ashley’s ownership and the decision-making of director of football Denis Wise.

After agreeing to sell key midfielder James Milner to Aston Villa, Wise then brought in midfielder Ignacio Gonzalez on loan, not for his footballing prowess, but as a favour to South American agents.

“I was asked to sign him on the basis of some clips on YouTube,” Keegan would say during his later claim for constructive dismissal.

The Uruguayan would play just 38 minutes in two substitute appearances at Newcastle and Keegan would be awarded £2 million in damages.

With "King Kev" gone and supporters apoplectic with rage, Ashley then made the bizarre appointment of Joe Kinnear as caretaker manager.

The Irishman, who had been out of the game for four years and had not been involved at a top-flight club since 1999, would enjoy his moment memorable moment at the club not in the dugout, but during his first press conference.

Kinnear would embark on an infamous foul-mouthed tirade against the local media about what he perceived had been unfair coverage of his appointment.

By February, the 62-year-old was also gone. Kinnear, who suffered a heart attack 10 years earlier, was rushed to hospital after feeling unwell ahead of the game against West Bromwich Albion. He would have to undergo a heart bypass operation and his short time as manager was over.

Chris Hughton took over as caretaker No 2 until Ashley made the audacious move to tempt club legend Shearer off his comfy BBC television pundit’s chair and take over the Newcastle hotseat.

Paul Gascoigne, a former Newcastle player and ex-England teammate, said of Shearer at the time: “People say he’s got nothing to lose, that if they stay up, he’s a hero and if they do down, it wasn’t his fault. But Al won't be thinking of it that way; if the team did go down, he'd take the blame.”

But even a sold out St James’ Park with Shearer in the dugout for the first time could not lift the players as Chelsea ran out comfortable 2-0 winners.

It was also clear that the elements in the dressing room were far from united behind the manager. After Joey Barton was sent off in the 3-0 defeat at Liverpool, a furious Shearer had confronted the midfielder after the match for the “coward’s tackle” that earned him a red card.

In his book The Boy On the Shed, Magpies physio Paul Ferris described Barton's reaction to the criticism: "He was a jabbering mass of incoherent vitriol and bile. Like the possessed girl in the The Exorcist, head swivelling and spitting venom."

Barton was banned from the training ground for the rest of the season.

In the next game, Shearer’s sixth, Newcastle would brush aside local rivals Middlesbrough 3-1 in front of a rocking St James’ Park. It would be the only victory he would enjoy while manager.

The final match of the season saw Newcastle lose 1-0 to Aston Villa and their 16-year stay in the Premier League was over. After a season of shooting themselves in the foot, it was appropriate that a Damien Duff own goal had sealed their fate. They finished third bottom, one point adrift of safety.

“I’m still raw, angry, disappointed and hurting,” Shearer - who had overseen one win, two draws and five defeats - said after the match. “You can put all those words together and that still doesn’t sum it up.

“There are huge problems at the club, that’s clear for everyone to see. Relegation isn’t about today, it’s about what’s gone on this season and the season before … a hell of a lot needs to be changed.”

Shearer had hoped to be given the chance to implement those changes, but the call from Ashley would never come and his reign as Newcastle manager would turn out to be a short and bitter one.