For all I know, Alan Shearer is a very nice man. I’ve never met him. He may be a pillar of his community in Newcastle, he may have given time and money to charity, built homes for the homeless, he may be the most approachable man in all the land. But to me, he’s a prick.
There are quite a few footballers who inspire these feelings in me and I hope to explore those feelings and share my idiotic opinions about those players with you in due course but for now, let’s stick with big square-headed Alan Shearer for the minute.
For those of you who may not know who Alan Shearer is/was, he is the all-time leading goalscorer in the Premier League. He won the Premier League once with Blackburn Rovers, then signed for Newcastle and became their all-time leading goalscorer. No trophies though. Yes, I did snigger when I wrote that. It’s a cheap shot but it’s the truth.
When Shearer moved to Newcastle from Blackburn, my hatred for him moved too. He chose not to sign with United at the time in a move that, of course, infuriated me. Why? Why would you not sign for Man Utd? You could have it all! You would win every trophy, get paid more than anyone, eternal glory at your fingertips and you chose Newcastle? Pavel Srnicek’s Newcastle? Barry Vennison’s Newcastle? Warren Barton’s Newcastle?
I didn’t understand it at the time, I just used it as more fuel to the fiery rage I had inside me towards ol’ squarehead, “how dare he turn us down!”, but now I get it. Newcastle was his club, he chose to take the chance on bringing glory to his city over signing for Alex Ferguson and winning everything for a club he didn’t care for. So that’s what he did. He turned United down and signed with Newcastle.
Nowadays, Mr Shearer is a pundit on Match Of The Day and is one of football’s truly great bald men. And for someone who I despised as a player, it’s surprising that I don’t find him horrific as a pundit.
I appreciate his position and I understand that he will have opinions that will infuriate me about my team and others. That’s not why I hate him. I appreciate that he is one of the lone voices in the media world who will call out Mike Ashley as the clown that he is, I have sympathy with him over this, it’s difficult to see your club become a laughing stock because of things happening in the boardroom.
Alan Shearer, to me, is the best striker I’ve ever seen in the Premier League. There have definitely been better football players than him. More skillfull players, better technical players, but as a pure striker? As in someone whose job it was to put the ball in the net? He was the best. Not just statistically the best, he was the best. And I hate him because of it.
This is the thing. He was the first big bad guy I saw bring down my team. He was Thanos and Man Utd were the Avengers. He snapped his fingers, or more accurately smacked a ball, and took the Premier League trophy away from Old Trafford.
I was 9 years old when Man Utd won their first Premier League title, their first top flight title in 26 years. To say that those players, Paul Parker and Darren Ferguson included, were heroes of mine would be an understatement. I was a Man Utd sponge, I soaked up every single piece of content that I could, I wanted to know everything I could find out about the players.
Magazines, videos, annuals, I wanted everything. My Dad and me would buy the pink Manchester Evening News on a Sunday because it was all about United. They may have had some City in there too back when they were a comedy club.
I was too young to really appreciate how long it had been since United had won the league. They won the FA Cup in 1990 which I remember watching. I was playing on the street with my friends when they won the Cup Winners Cup the following year but I still knew it was on.
I remember Leeds winning the title the next year and feeling the disappointment, especially the Anfield defeat but having absolutely no context for it. I wasn’t waiting half a century to see my team win the title after all, I just knew, in the here and now, that I was upset.
I was too young to realise how Shakesperian it would have been had Aston Villa won that first Premier League title. But what I would give to have been more aware of who and what Ron Atkinson was and what he represented in that season. The man who Alex Ferguson replaced as manager of Man Utd was in prime position to pip his successor to the title.
I didn’t come to know Big Ron properly until his later managerial career where he continually got relegated, threw headphones at unsuspecting sound technicians and used phrases like ‘early doors’ while commentating. The idea that he was in that position seems ludicrous now – of course Villa weren’t going to win the league!
Sky really pushing their top of the table showdown at Old Trafford. I don’t remember very much about the match. I just remember a sound. Steve Staunton, local legend, smashed a shot from the edge of the box past Peter Schmeichel and the ball hit the stanchion. It made the most peculiar sound that I’m pretty sure was never repeated or replicated.
That sound silenced Old Trafford as big blonde Steve celebrated. The game finished 1-1 and Man Utd went on to win the league.
In the final home game of the season, United played Blackburn Rovers. We didn’t know it then, but this was about to become a proper, fierce rivalry in the next couple of seasons. This was like when Thanos appears after the credits of the first Avengers movie. He wasn’t the main villain but he was coming.
This post is about Alan Shearer. I haven’t forgotten about him. This was when he was becoming a real, powerful super villain. He signed for Blackburn from Southampton and things began to escalate. In his first season with Rovers he scored 21 goals. A very respectable total you’d say. In his next three seasons he scored 40, 42 & 35. Outrageous.
In his second season he scored 40 goals including both goals in a 2-0 Blackburn win against Man Utd at Ewood Park. This is when I first realised I really hated him. I saw him scoring goals against everyone else but not against my team. The first was a trademark header. The man headed the ball better than anyone else I have ever seen. He could head the ball harder than most people could kick it.
My feelings about Shearer are tied to my feelings about Kenny Dalgliesh too, because almost every one of those goals that he scored for Blackburn were accompanied by a shot of Kenny celebrating in the dugout. Including in this game where he seems to be watching the match from a construction site.
I remember not feeling scared of him though, not being fully aware of his power, until the 2nd goal.
One of the quirky facts I had picked up about the Man Utd players was about Gary Pallister. Somewhere, someone said that he was one of the quickest players at the club so to see him undone by one big long ball over the top by Shearer was very upsetting.
I was still a young impressionable kid at this point and I had only really known victory as a United fan. Or at least I couldn’t remember anything else. To see my team being beaten in a high pressure situation was not nice. I was upset. I didn’t cry but I definitely found a room on my own to watch the last 15 minutes or so. I’m too soft for football.