Harper hails Shearer effect
Steve Harper has hailed the impact of Alan Shearer, just 10 days after becoming Newcastle's new manager.
By Elliot Ball
Last Updated: 11/04/09 1:01pm
Steve Harper has hailed the impact of Alan Shearer, just 10 days after becoming Newcastle United's new manager.
Goalkeeper Harper has been a long-standing fixture at St James' Park and has played under 10 different full-time managers during his 16-year spell at the club.
The 34-year-old shot-stopper joined Newcastle just weeks after Kevin Keegan guided the Magpies to promotion in May 1993.
Harper was a young reserve when Shearer 'came home' for the first time in a world record £15million move three years later and since then has become a close friend as well as regular golf partner.
And Harper insists Shearer's arrival has been just the tonic for a club battling to keep their Premier League status intact in a season which has been traumatic, even by Newcastle's standards.
"It's given everybody a massive lift," Harper told the Daily Star. "He's certainly the right man for the job.
"Do I have trouble calling him gaffer? It was hard the first couple of times and there were a couple of slip-ups but that's the way it is and it's becoming automatic.
"Anyway, there are a few of us in the same boat - Michael Owen, Nicky Butt, we all played with him and in a way that might help us. As a manager, you need to learn about characters and he has that advantage.
"But anyone who thinks we are going to get preferential treatment from him does not know Alan Shearer!"
"He has instilled discipline and professionalism and players have responded to him and appreciated it.
Back to basics
"He is very big on punctuality as a respect to each other. Everyone must eat together to forge team spirit. Ice baths are now compulsory.
"They are just little things really but they all add up and if you start at the bottom and get the basics right, then everything else will follow."
Training, too, has sparkled into life under Shearer and new assistant Iain Dowie, according the keeper.
"It's been really good," Harper added. "The tempo's improved and the sessions are longer and much more competitive.
"There's definitely a competitiveness and edge that maybe had begun to disappear. It has started to come back and you can see a response.
"But responses on the training ground won't get us out of the situation we are in. We have to do it for 90 minutes on match days, hopefully starting at Stoke."