Alan Shearer spoke to The Athletic before of our travel to the San Siro for our first Champions League encounter against AC Milan.

He thinks it’s a ‘wonderful draw,’ and that Newcastle should embrace it because we have a good chance of qualifying. He acknowledges that PSG would be difficult, but believes Milan ‘aren’t a great team,’ sharing what Sir Bobby would tell his men before our group games 20 years ago – ‘just one win, lads.’

Shearer believes our 1-0 win over Brentford was all about the outcome, not the performance, and that it provides us with a ‘opportunity to rest’ as we prepare for Milan. He claims there was ‘never any panic’ because it was always going to be a difficult start, and he believes we will have another’very excellent season.’

The 53-year-old also reveals how midweek European games will be a new challenge for players and staff, claiming that the physical and mental strain extends beyond simply 90 minutes of football, since the journey and build-up disrupts normal routines and can be taxing. Hopefully, we’ll be able to do so, especially with games against Sheffield United (Premier League) and Manchester City (Carabao Cup) coming up in the next few weeks.

Here’s everything Shearer’s had to say, starting with his thoughts on the draw:

“Loads of people messaged me when the draw was made, saying stuff like, ‘Oh, that’s really tough’ or, ‘That could have been a bit easier’, but I was like, no, this is a great draw, trust me.

“I always go back to what happened with Blackburn Rovers when we won the Premier League in 1995. There was a bit of turmoil at the club that summer, with Kenny Dalglish stepping down as manager, but there was real excitement about playing in the Champions League.

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“Then we drew Rosenborg, Spartak Moscow and Legia Warsaw and all I can really remember is the bit I wish I couldn’t, being frozen to the bone in sub-zero temperatures at the Luzhniki Stadium and David Batty and Graeme Le Saux scrapping with each other. How the hell did it come to this?

“So, no, Newcastle’s group is not a group of death. It’s a brilliant group, one that reminds us we’re alive and I don’t think it’s impossible to get out of it. Sure, PSG will be tough, but Milan aren’t a great team and they’ll all find it difficult at St James’. Like Bobby said, ‘Just one win, lads’ and then get a couple of draws or a win away from home and you never know. This is where players want to be, where good players believe they should be.”

Shearer on our start to the season and win over Brentford:

“There was never any panic and I still think Newcastle will have a very good season. We knew it was a very tough start. Liverpool affected their confidence and they didn’t play well at all at Brighton, but Brentford gives them a chance to reset. It was all about the result. It means they can go to Milan looking forward to what they earned last season because they did earn it.”

Shearer on the increased obstacles that come with playing in Europe:

“Playing in Europe is a unique experience for both players and staff.” The problem isn’t just the 90 minutes; it’s also the physical and mental strain of what happens in that time. You travel in comfort and stay in a beautiful hotel, yet the journey exhausts your legs and body. It’s amazing and exhilarating, but it’s also exhausting. You get home late or the next day after matches. It throws routines off and is unfamiliar to many Newcastle players.”

Shearer on his game plans for tomorrow:

“My son, Will, is going over with a couple of friends, and I’ll be at the pub with my friends or at home quietly watching.” Man, I can’t wait. For what it’s worth, my suggestion to the players is to soak it all in, to appreciate the atmosphere, because they must understand how much it means to us. Because this is football, and anything can happen. Although I assume this will not be our final appearance in the Champions League…”


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