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Shearer Says: “Rafa has a tough job on his hands. If he had got the job a month ago, they might be better placed now in the table.”

| 16.03.2016

We never expected to have a fancied runner at the Cheltenham Festival

I was the happiest man alive on Saturday evening when Everton scored two goals to beat Chelsea in the FA Cup. This meant I am now going to be available to go to the Cheltenham Festival on Wednesday where a horse in which I have a share, Augusta Kate, runs in the Champion Bumper.

We will have a great day whatever happens. Her trainer Willie Mullins believes if she produces what she has done in her previous racecourse runs, she will have a chance as nothing has stood out from the pack in the race. She’s a horse which does not show too much at home but we are just keeping our fingers crossed for a big run.


Graham Wylie put the syndicate together for days like this but we never expected to have one of the fancied runners in a race at the Cheltenham Festival. She’s produced more than we would have hoped for. If the best happens, I might not come home Wednesday night. She’s running in the last race on the card so I should not feel any pain at that point.

Even If I did not have a runner, I’d be watching Cheltenham anyway as I love the buzz around the meeting. It’s just fantastic.

Rafa Benitez is a big coup for Newcastle United

The appointment of Rafa Benitez at Newcastle United is a great coup for the club. I was surprised, given Newcastle’s image and predicament that a guy of his standing in the game has taken it on. Since speaking to him, though, I know he feels this is a big club.

Rafa has got a tough job on his hands as the club is positioned where they are for a reason. I am a little surprised Newcastle didn’t act earlier. If Rafa had got the job a month ago, they might be better placed now in the table.

I know he has the clause in his contract for him to leave if they get relegated and that is understandable because he is a top manager and would not want to work in the Championship. What Newcastle have done now is give themselves a chance to remain in the Premier League. If they had not made the change, then I think we would have been relegated.

Rafael Benitez - Newcastle United

There is no way you can doubt Rafa’s calibre. This is a man who has been in charge of Liverpool, Real Madrid, Inter Milan, Napoli and Chelsea and has had lots of success. He’ll be brilliant if he is allowed to manage and bring in his own players (of any age). First and foremost though, he has to keep Newcastle in the Premier League for these things to happen. The transfer policy at the club is not relevant at the moment because he can’t implement those things until he secures their top flight status for next season.

From Sunderland and Norwich’s point of view, they would have been happy for the club to stick with what they had. This will be a bit of a blow to them as it improves Newcastle’s chances of survival as he will make them tougher and harder to beat.

When you look at the problems Rafa faces, he has to do a bit of everything because they are not scoring goals and they are shipping too many. I haven’t worked with him before but if you speak to people who have, they say he is brilliant tactically and a very good coach on the training ground.

We spoke on Friday just after he had been unveiled and I said I would love to be around in Newcastle on a day when we won a trophy. We had half a million on the street here when we got beaten in two cup finals. I lived in Formby, which is near Liverpool, when I played for Blackburn. I told him the people here are very similar to how they are in Liverpool. They are hard-working, passionate and just live their lives for football. I also said if there is anything he ever wants my advice on at Newcastle, all he has to do is ask. He said he would like to do that over a coffee or lunch some time.

Arsene Wenger will decide his own future at Arsenal

The pressure is on every manager in the Premier League but when you are at a big club like Arsenal, you are expected to win trophies. Arsenal have suffered from the same problem in recent years, they have put themselves in the running for the title but when the push comes to shove, they have fallen short.

When you look at the standard of the Premier League this year, it is not great. The excitement is there, but not the quality. You only have to look at Tottenham’s trip to Dortmund last week. We are a long way behind the top teams in Germany and Spain.

Britain Soccer FA Cup

If there was ever a season Arsenal were going to win it, this was it. The embarrassment for the big clubs in the league if Leicester win it, will be huge. When you look at the finances the big boys have spent it’s huge, yet they have not been able to better Leicester who have not spent anywhere near the same kind of money.

There is a lot of talk now about Arsene Wenger’s future and I think the only person who is going to decide that is him. If he ends up leaving in the summer, it will be his decision. When you look at what he has achieved in his time at Arsenal then he has been successful. Ultimately though, the fans at Arsenal want the Premier League and that has not been delivered for some time now.

People are becoming tired of Diego Costa’s behaviour

It’s drama after drama with Diego Costa. I know it was his first red card at Chelsea on Saturday, but people are becoming tired of him now. It’s the same thing week after week. I’m all for centre forwards being aggressive in order to gain an advantage over the opposition to help score goals but at times he has taken it too far.

What Costa also does is turn the referees against Chelsea. It’s just getting really boring now as we seem to be talking about him every single week. He did not bite Barry. He lost his head for three seconds and on the fourth second he decided not to bite him. He could have been sent off for three separate incidents in those three seconds though so he can’t have any complaints.

Diego Costa and Gareth Barry File Photo

Sometimes opposition don’t even have to wind him up because he already has his angry head on. There has to come a point where realises he is pushing things too far to the detriment of the team.

Look at the two centre forwards on different teams on Saturday. You had a one player who is young, raw and full of confidence in Lukaku. Chelsea obviously did not want him and yet he effectively won the game on his own. Then you have Costa, who is more experienced and should be doing what Lukaku is doing but got himself sent-off. It is an embarrassment for Chelsea.

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Alan Shearer

Alan Shearer played his entire career at the top level of English football, winning the Premier League title with Blackburn in 1994-95. The following summer he signed for his hometown club, Newcastle United, for a then world record £15 million fee.

He ended his playing career with a record 260 Premier League goals, which still stands today. He also won 63 caps for England, including 34 as captain, and among his 30 international goals were five scored at Euro 96, a total that won him the Golden Boot at that tournament.

Now the chief pundit on Match Of The Day, Alan was one of the first two players inducted into the Premier League Hall Of Fame this year.