Shearer fears more of the same

Last updated : 22 September 2003 By Martyn Elliott

Worryingly he is probably right, as many teams seem to have worked out that if you stick ten men behind the ball and don’t leave any space for Bellamy or Dyer to run into then our main attacking ploy can be nullified.

As Plan B seems to be lump the ball into the box and hope Shearer can do something with it, a rethink of the game plan that has proved so successful in the past two seasons may be needed.

Speaking about Saturday’s 0-0 draw, Shearer told the Evening Chronicle: "We understand the fans' frustration but we have to be patient. And the sooner we get those first three points the better it will be for everyone.

"We have 52,000 people wanting us to score goals and it's not nice when things are not going for you but we just have to keep working hard.

"There can be no complaints with the work-rate, the effort or the commitment. The positive from Saturday was that we kept a clean sheet but the negative is that we didn't win again.

"Bolton sat deep and their game plan worked because we obviously did not score. We needed to get an early goal because that would have forced them to come out more but it didn't happen.

"I think 90 per cent of teams will come to St James' Park and have that mentality although perhaps the likes of Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea will be different.

"But Bolton will again be thinking about survival this season. They will be in a battle and they weren't going to be too adventurous."

Where Manchester United have Paul Scholes, Arsenal Robert Pires and Chelsea Adrian Mutu to unlock stubborn defences our flair players are struggling to create chances - but when Dyer and Bellamy are both off form, it is difficult to see who can change a game for us.