Alan Shearer at Man Utd – What Could’ve Been Had He Not Joined Newcastle

?Turning down Manchester United at the peak of their powers? Now that’s one ballsy call.

While in the current climate that could easily be filed under the ‘lack of ambition’ category, you have to admire someone who chose to join his boyhood club and earn legendary status instead of seeking the riches and glamour that the world’s biggest club could offer – especially after a phone call from Sir Alex Ferguson.

Alan Shearer talking about his ?1996 decision has caused a divide among the neutral onlookers, who are torn between whether he was right or wrong to do so. But let’s be honest, who cares. Shearer did what Shearer thought was right, and he went on to become the ?Premier League‘s all-time leading scorer with 260 goals. His choice, fair play.

However, in an alternate universe where the striker opted to head to Old Trafford, there could have been a totally different picture painted with countless humorous outcomes. Well, that’s the way we’re going to look at it anyway, since this is all entirely hypothetical.


Daily Run-Ins With Roy Keane

Roy Keane Alan Shearer

There is no love lost between these two, Going back to 2001, some five years after Shearer’s non-move to ?United, the pair’s first public dispute saw Roy Keane see red – in more ways than one.

A piss-poor attempt at a punch failed to land – or an equally nimble dodge prevented it – as the Irishman was given his marching orders. Shearer returned the favour 18 months later with an elbow that did connect, and the duo would go on to hate each other’s guts forever.

So, how would have this relationship transpired if they were teammates? Probably in exactly the same manner. Keane can pick a fight with his shadow, and the Geordie is not one to mince his words. They’d set the house on fire, not get along like one.

Would they have needed separate training sessions and separate changing rooms? Or would they have sorted out some kind of direct debit with the local dentist for their constant check ups? Both, you’d expect, and no doubt they’d have put Lee Bowyer and Kieron Dyer to shame on more than one occasion.


Shearer’s Bar Getting Renamed

Alan Shearer of Newcastle United celebrates scoring the second goal with team-mate Shola Ameobi

It speaks volumes of how admired you are in your hometown when a bar attached to the club’s stadium is named after you. Opened in 2004, it houses the bi-weekly swathes of Toon fans who come to sink a few before kick off and herald their local hero. It’s since been renamed, but let’s pretend that’s not the case.

But…if he didn’t play there, it’d need a different name, right? So, who else could be bestowed with that honour? What other Geordie legend is earning of that right? Shola Ameobi, of course.

Born in Nigeria but raised on Tyneside, he’s adored by the locals. Sure, his scoring rate isn’t quite Shearer’s (79 in 397 compared to 206 in 405), but sod it, he’s the next best thing.

Not to mention, you could call it ‘Ameobar’, which has a nicer ring to it.


Breaking the 1000-Goal Mark in the Premier League

Alan Shearer celebration

Maybe just a slight exaggeration, but there is doubting that Shearer would’ve scored a shed-load more goals had he made the move to Old Trafford. Playing alongside Eric Cantona, David Beckham, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and Andy Cole might just have made hitting the back of the net a tad easier.

Sure, he had David Ginola, Peter Beardsley and Les Ferdinand at St James’ Park, but further down the line, the quality of squad just doesn’t compare. Jean-Alain Boumsong and ageing pair Ian Rush and John Barnes being just a few that spring to mind. 

Meanwhile, United kept their squad mainly intact for the rest of Shearer’s career, and just kept adding further quality to it.


Being Hated in Newcastle

Alan Shearer Testimonial

Imagine the vitriol around St James’ Park every time Shearer played there for United, undoubtedly scored, and then proceeded to run to the corner flag with his right arm aloft.

He’d be detested throughout the city, in every trebles bar and Greggs there is. Grey’s Monument in the city centre would be transformed into a giant ever-burning effigy of the man, and both Northumbria and Newcastle universities would run a ‘biggest traitor’ course that receives nine times more applicants each year than it has space for.

Road blocks would be set up at every road leading in or out of the city, just to check there are no hidden Premier League strikers cowering in a car boot, and there would be a city-wide ban on naming children ‘Alan’. 

We can assume as such, anyway, which is why it’s a good thing he joined them isn’t it?


Adopting a Bizarre Mancunian-Geordie Accent 

Alan Shearer

If his voice comes on the radio, you know immediately its Shearer’s. The subtle, yet distinctly Geordie tones of his voice are unmistakable, and living in the city and playing for ?Newcastle for all those years made sure it never waned.

So what if he was surrounded by Scholes, Phil and Gary Neville each day? What sort of weird hybrid accent would he have adopted? An amalgamation of two completely different sounding local dialects would have been fascinating (OK, that’s a bit excessive) to hear.

Can you imagine ‘Ha’way’ ending with a long, drawn out ‘ehhhh’ at the end? I’m trying to, but it’s tough and, frankly, weird.


No Ole Gunnar Solskjaer? No…Many Things?

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

Speaking of mad half-Manc accents…Sir Alex Ferguson missed out on signing Shearer (in ‘real’ life) so instead plucked Ole Gunnar Solskjaer from Norwegian obscurity. He’d go on to spend 11 trophy-laden years with the club and earn legendary status.

Well, well, well then. So if he didn’t join, does that mean we might be seeing Mauricio Pochettino in the Old Trafford dugout? If he didn’t join, there would never have been that night against Paris Saint-Germain? Going further back, if he didn’t join, would the magic of the 1999 ?Champions League final never have taken place? If he didn’t join, then no injury time winner against Liverpool in the FA Cup? 

Wait, wait, WAIT! Would this also mean that Shearer would be the club’s manager??? Would Solskjaer be hosting Match of the Day??? 

Good lord, imagine.


For more from Ross Kennerley, follow him on Twitter!  

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The Best Players Ever to Wear Each Shirt Number at Aston Villa From 1 to 11

Success-starved ?Aston Villa fans often need a reminder of their former glory. There’s not been much to shout about in recent years, mediocrity has wiped the club off its feet and dumped them into an ever-sinking hole. The days of a European odyssey, league titles, and housing most of Ireland’s greatest ever players seem like ancient history. 

That’s not to say it’s been all doom and gloom in the Midlands though. Villa have had some memorable players, some players with pure ability and some players, well, their names will reside in the Holte End forevermore. 

Here are the best players ever to wear each shirt number at Aston Villa from 1 to 11. Strap in. 


#1 – Mark Bosnich

VILLA V EVERTON

A controversial character but a fine, fine goalkeeper. His performances between the sticks made him a solid first choice keeper for seven full seasons and though his personal activities seemed to swing from the laudable to the lamentable, he flourished under the lights of Villa Park. A penalty-saving expert. 

Honourable Mention: Jimmy Rimmer


#2 – John Gregory

John Gregory


Player from 1977-1979, manager from 1998-2002. John Gregory loved it at Villa and the fans loved him. Although he primarily wore #2, Gregory is the only player to play in every outfield position, wearing numbers 2-11 over the course of two seasons. Versatile.

Honourable Mention: Mark Delaney


#3 – Steve Staunton

Steve Staunton

A regular in the Villa defence in the 90s, picking up two League Cups and an Intertoto Cup along the way. The ginger curls poking through the backwards baseball cap in the beaming heat at USA ’94 is typically what people remember of Staunton, but let’s not forget the steadiness he brought to the Villa back-line in their run to the UEFA Cup quarter finals in 1996-97.

Honourable Mention: Jlloyd Samuel


#4 – Olof Melberg

Olof Melberg

Olof just simply refused to lose, and his Scandi-battling mentality took him a long way in his career. A bona fide modern-day Aston Villa legend, with 232 club appearances spanning seven years. His footballing knowledge, positional awareness and strength solidified his centre-half spot for many years.

Honourable Mention: Gareth Southgate


#5 – Paul McGrath

ASTON VILLA V NEWCASTLE

Sometimes in life, something or someone will come along and deviate from the normality that we all know. Well, say hello to Paul McGrath. Widely considered one of Ireland’s greatest ever players despite chronic injuries and a non-existent training schedule. 

McGrath turned defending into a work of art all while playing 46 games a season in his thirties at Villa. Some effort that.

Honourable Mention: Ugo Ehiogu


#6 – Gareth Barry

Gareth Barry

It seems like the Premier League would implode in on itself if Gareth Barry ever retires doesn’t it? Just the 441 Villa games for Barry – that’s A LOT of football – so it would be wrong not to include him at #6.

Honourable Mention: Dennis Mortimer


#7 – Gordon Cowans

Gordan Cowans of Aston Villa

Consistently rated as one of their three best ever players by Villa fans, Cowans was the exceptional with both feet and, had tough tackling and spectacular assists in his locker. During his three separate spells at Villa Park, Cowans picked up a First Division title, a League Cup, a European Cup and a European Super Cup. His mantlepiece must be cluttered. 

Honourable Mention: Ashley Young


#8 – David Platt

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The strong-running, free-scoring midfielder will be remember at Villa for his goals with 64 goals in 148 appearances, and winning PFA Players’ Player of the Year in 1989/90. Platt has been somewhat airbrushed from the pub discussions of the best English midfielders of modern times but his trademark late runs are something we should all cherish. 

Honourable Mention: Brian Little


#9 – Andy Gray

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Best known for commentary and punditry for the young ones amongst us, Gray was a sublime striker in his day. In the 1976/77 season, he netted 29 times to carry Villa to fourth in the League and also to glory in the League Cup.

Honourable Mention: Peter Withe


#10 – Dwight Yorke

Dwight Yorke of Aston Villa in action

By anybody’s standards, Dwight Yorke enjoyed a magnificent career. He’s famed for his antics at Old Trafford but it all started in the Midlands after Yorke was discovered by the late Graham Taylor on a tour of the West Indies in 1989. Plucked from the beaches of his beloved Trinidad & Tobago and catapulted to the big stage at Aston Villa.

Honourable Mention: John Carew


#11 – Gabby Agbonlahor 

Gabriel Agbonlahor

Between the years of 2006-10, Agbonlahor was different class, and being the local lad rising through the youth ranks to not only break into the first team but make himself a fan favourite? Every kid’s dream. Definitely not appreciated enough retrospectively.

Honourable Mention: Stiliyan Petrov


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Barcelona and Lazio Set for Summer Transfer Battle Over Alessio Romagnoli

?Barcelona’s search to strengthen the centre of their defence has seen them linked with AC Milan’s captain Alessio Romagnoli. 

The Italian could be set for a tug of war between the Spanish giants and Italian side Lazio, who are also interested in the defender. 

Alessio Romagnoli,Giorgios Kyriakopoulos

However, Sport report that Barcelona could face a couple of problems bringing Romagnoli to Camp Nou. ?AC Milan are reluctant to sell one of their best players, and a mixture of Barcelona’s (relatively) tight financial constraints and their desire to buy a big-name forward mean they are not able to spend a large amount on the centre-back, with a potential transfer costing around 50m.

Added to that, Romagnoli’s agent is Mino Raiola – who is known for his tough negotiations, and willingness to play hardball with both buying and selling clubs when it comes to transfers and contract renewals. 

Stefano Pioli,Alessio Romagnoli

As well as looking around at potential new destinations, Raiola will be attempting to secure his client a new deal worth more than his current €3.5m a season. 

However, ?Barcelona are desperate to find a new left-sided centre-back and have been following Romagnoli for a while, with Samuel Umtiti tipped to depart this summer after a litany of injury issues. 

Moreover, midfielders Ivan Rakitic and Rafinha may be offloaded in order to raise funds for a summer rebuild. 

Alessio Romagnoli

Already a natural leader as captain of AC Milan, the former Roma defender is seen as someone who could have a crack at filling the void left by the likes of Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci in the heart of the Italian national team’s defence when they retire. 

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Fernando Morientes: Remembering Moro’s Top 5 Career Moments

On someone’s birthday, it is customary to…well, celebrate them a bit. Generally be nice. Here at 90min, it’s no different so, on Fernando Morientes’ 44th birthday, it is only right to honour the former Real Madrid and Spain frontman.

If you’re a Premier League aficionado, you might be focussed on the 18 unsuccessful months he spent on Merseyside, but the Madrista frontman enjoyed eight sparkling seasons at the Bernabéu, pocketing three Champions League medals in that span.

In a brilliant 17-year career, Morientes played for eight clubs across Europe and plundered 235 goals for club and country. 

Feliz cumpleaños Moro.


Champions League Glory in 1998


Joining ?Los Merengues from Real Zaragoza for approximately €6.6m, ?a 21-year-old Morientes was initially unsure if he could make the grade at such a prestigious club.

“I thought I’d have to adapt in my first season and see if I was able to play at such a high level because I was coming from a smaller club,” Morientes recalls.

It didn’t take as long as he thought. Fernando hit the ground running, immediately leading Real Madrid’s line during their successful 1997/98 ?Champions League campaign, bagging the crucial first goal in Madrid’s semi-final win over ?Borussia Dortmund in a 2-0 aggregate victory. 

Playing as the first-team striker, Morientes helped end a 32-year hoodoo for the club since their last European title with a 1-0 victory over ?Juventus in 1998. 


5-Star Against Las Palmas

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?In the 2001/02 season, lowly U.D Las Palmas visited the Santiago Bernabéu in February. Surprisingly, the Canary Islands club had beaten ?Los Merengues 4-2 earlier in the season and it’s safe to say that Madrid were hungry for revenge.

They were successful in enacting that revenge, running out 7-0 winners. Morientes grabbed five goals – four with his head – as Las Palmas had absolutely no answer. 

Moro at his finest. 


One Night in Paris

Even though Morientes has said that his favourite ?Champions League success was his first, breaking Real’s long-anticipated wait for European glory, his performance in 2000 was more impactful. 

Squaring off in an all-Spanish affair against Valencia, ?Real Madrid were considered strong favourites against Héctor Cúper’s side. In a convincing 3-0 win, Morientes stamped his impact on the game with the first goal. 

In the 29th minute, Nicolas Anelka’s byline cross didn’t make it past the first man, but a battling Míchel Salgado nipped in to win it back. A scooped cross from the right-back was sent to the back post, where the lethal Moro is waiting to head in.

Real Madrid would never look back, and a scissor kick from Steve McManaman would eventually steal the headlines, but it was Morientes who had sent them on their way. 


?Monaco’s Quarter-Final Clash


Some players just have the knack in particular competitions. Luckily for Morientes, it was the ?Champions League. With the Galacticos era in full swing in 2003, he was deemed surplus to requirements and was loaned to Monaco.

Fernando was less than happy about the move and got the opportunity for Real Madrid’s upper management to rue that decision later in the season, as the Monégasques faced Moro’s parent club in the quarter finals.

Masterminded by then-boss Didier Deschamps, a team that included elite talent like Ludovic Guily, Patrice Evra and Morientes toppled Real to shock the footballing world.

Moro scored in both the home and away legs as the French club went through on away goals. Revenge can be so sweet. 


The 2002 World Cup

Luis Enrique,Fernando Morientes,Gary Breen

“I always think that being part of your national team is the pinnacle of your professional career. It’s amazing to play for great teams but in the end, wearing your national teams’ shirt is the top of what you can aspire to do as a professional footballer.”

Well said, Moro. 

Fernando pulled on the Spain shirt 47 times and took his opportunity with both hands; Morientes is the fifth all-time goalscorer for his country.

The 2002 Spain side were the most complete Morientes played with and they looked set to reach the nation’s first World Cup semi-final – but Egyptian referee Gamal Al-Ghandour constantly gave big decisions against them in their quarter-final against hosts South Korea, and the Spaniards were knocked out on penalties. 


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Valencia Star Tipped to Replace Douglas Costa and Federico Bernardeschi at Juventus

?Juventus forwards Douglas Costa and Federico Bernardeschi could be on their way out of Turin to make room for Valencia star Ferran Torres, with the Spanish youngster said to be high up on the Bianconeri’s wishlist.

Inheriting the current squad, former Napoli and Chelsea boss Marurizio Sarri has been on the lookout for players to fit his 4-3-3 ‘Sarriball’ style of play, with a helping hand from chief football officer Fabio Paratici. 

Douglas Costa,Federico Bernardeschi

Trying to fit in all the big names – ?Cristiano Ronaldo, ?Paulo Dybala and ?Gonzalo Higuain among others – into the starting XI has proved a difficult task for Sarri, while the club’s wingers have struggled; possibly as a result.

Costa should be in his footballing prime at 29 years old, but the bosses of Turin feel that the Brazilian international is too injury-prone and not consistent enough. 

Italy international Bernardeschi is in a similar situation, having been bought for £35m on a five-year deal back in 2017. The general consensus at Juventus is that, flashes of genuine quality aside, there has been little improvement in performances over the last three years. 

Federico Bernardeschi

In the January transfer window, Juve failed to flog Bernardeschi to ?Barcelona while a part-exchange offer from? AC Milan – including Lucas Paqueta – was turned down rather quickly. If it wasn’t clear that Juve only want money towards their hunt for a replacement winger, a part-exchange deal for Costa from ?Bayern Munich was also rejected in January. 

Torres has turned down two contract extensions at Valencia so far as Juventus and Barcelona look to get their man – and he’s unlikely to be bought for his full release clause of €100m, with just over a year left on his contract.

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