Club Legend Alan Shearer believes managerial autonomy under Rafa Benitez is paying dividends for Newcastle United.
Managers have had a very hands off approach to signing players throughout the Mike Ashley regime, with head scout Graham Carr handed the duties of identifying future signing targets.
But under Benitez that has all changed. The Spaniard has been given ‘carta blanca’, or total control over who comes in and who goes out at St James’s Park.
And while Carr still has some input, it is Benitez and his coaching staff who identify additions. This has been by far one of the biggest switches in approach from the top by Ashley since the 56-year-old Madrilenian arrived at the helm.
And United’s record goalscorer, who had a brief stint as a boss under Ashley in 2009, is a supporter of handing control back to the manager on transfers.
“He’s doing what he wants to do, manage the team and bring the players in he wants,” said Shearer, who netted 206 goals while at United.
“You’d have to ask him about that (buying his own players), but in general I’d assume very much so it’s positive.
“I think it’s been very good to keep him at the club.”
When asked about the Magpies start to life in the Championship, Shearer is positive.
“They’re doing all right,” he said
“They had a blip to start with but they’re back on track.
“It will be a long, hard slog this season, though.”
“There’s a feel-good factor about the club and the city.
“I know they’re in the Championship, but it’s got to start somewhere.
“They’ve got to get back into the Premier League.”
Having agreed to manage the Entertainers XI which played out a 2-2 draw with a Manchester select XI to mark 20 years since that 5-0 game under Kevin Keegan, Shearer turned out for the first 45 minutes at Kingston Park.
Rolling back the years the frontman even netted the opener in front a jubilant, partizan home crowd at the home of the Newcastle Falcons.
Reflecting on the experience, which raised cash for the Alan Shearer Foundation, he said: “It’s been hard work getting everyone together over a number of months but the generosity of everyone – players, fans, everyone – has been superb.
“We’ve got a great crowd, and it was a right laugh just watching everyone try and get into their shirts in the dressing room.
“It’s been great having all the group back together. We had a great day at the golf day and then we had a meal and a few beers.
“It’s been fantastic to catch up with everyone.”