NEWCASTLE winger Damien Duff insists temporary manager Alan Shearer is the best man to drag the club out of its malaise and back into the top-flight at the first opportunity.
Shearer will meet Magpies owner Mike Ashley for talks later this week before a decision is made on his future, but the former England captain and Tyneside hero seems certain to be offered the position on a permanent basis.
Whether he accepts the task, having failed to steer them away from relegation in their final eight Premier League games, remains to be seen, but the man whose own goal condemned them to the drop is desperate that he does.
“If there’s one man to get us back up, it’s Alan Shearer,” said Duff, who deflected Gareth Barry’s shot into his own net in Sunday’s decisive 1-0 defeat at Aston Villa.
“I think he’s been brilliant even though we haven’t got the results to keep us up.
“It’s the first time in a long while that this place has felt like a proper football club. Things are done right and it’s been a breath of fresh air.”
Duff, 30, intends to help Newcastle bounce straight back next season, insisting he wants to stay at St James’ Park despite being one of their more saleable assets.
“I’m as loyal as they come and, whether the gaffer stays or goes, I’d love to try and get Newcastle back up into the Premier League,” he added.
Duff admitted thinking “‘Why me?’” after helping to end his side’s 16-year stay in the top tier, while defender Steven Taylor called relegation a career low.
“It’s the worst feeling I’ve had as a professional footballer. It’s the worst day in our careers. The dressing room was like a funeral afterwards. Everybody was devastated,” said England Under-21 star Taylor.
“I know there will be changes at this football club, but I don’t know what’s going to happen.”