The Athletic’s Alan Shearer took part in a live Q&A with subscribers earlier this afternoon and answered your questions ahead of the Premier League season getting underway.
The competition’s record scorer was of course asked for his thoughts on the likely departure of Tottenham Hotspur’s Harry Kane to Bayern Munich — with the 30-year-old England captain just 47 goals shy of Shearer’s total.
The former Newcastle United talisman also gave his thoughts on how he thinks his old club will get on in a campaign that will see them compete in the Champions League for the first time in two decades, who he thinks will finish in the top four and who will be relegated.
Here are all the best bits…
Question: If you had to give up either your Premier League winners’ medal or your record as the competition’s top scorer, which would you choose?
Answer: That’s a really tough question, Lewis. A bloody good question! Luckily, I don’t have to give either up. I guess you’re asking this in relation to Harry. Take away all the jokes, I do think he’s making the right decision. Why? He had one of his best seasons ever for Spurs last time and they weren’t in contention.
He’s now going to a giant of a football club who will be pushing to win the Champions League. They are a massive, massive club. And if he has two or three good years over there, he can still come back and have a go at my record.
Question: There must be a small sense of relief that your record will remain, but what would you have done in Harry Kane’s situation? Move to Bayern now or wait until the end of your contract and have your pick of the clubs and potentially stay in the Premier League?
Answer: If you sit tight, there’s a small gamble. What if he got a serious injury? And as I’ve already said, it’s by no means certain he won’t break the record anyway. He’s got time to do it, he’s got a decent fitness record and players tend to play longer these days.
Question: Has Kane asked you for advice?
Answer: I’ve spoken to him plenty of times and I’ve offered him my support at various points of his career, but no, he hasn’t asked me for advice. If he had asked me, I would have told him to leave Spurs two years ago!
Question: What is the difference between Robert Lewandowski and Kane at Bayern Munich?
Answer: They are different kinds of players — Lewandowski is more of an out-and-out No 9 and would be less likely to drop deep, but they are also both goal machines. Lewandowski is older (34) and you wouldn’t want him doing that kind of work at that age, but Harry is younger and more mobile and is brilliant at it. They are both phenomenal.
Question: Who will finish in the top four this season?
Answer: 1. Manchester City. 2. Arsenal. 3. Liverpool. 4. Manchester United. 5. Newcastle. I think Pep Guardiola’s hunger and drive will get City firing again. Do Arsenal have enough options up front? I think Liverpool will outscore other teams going forward, even if they have to improve a lot at the back. Manchester United, I think they’ve done decent business. I also hope I’m wrong and a team in black and white pips them to the top four.
Question: Who will get relegated this season?
Answer: I will say Luton, Sheffield United and Nottingham Forest. Sheffield United are selling their best players, Luton because of the size of the club compared to everybody else and Forest survived by the skin of their teeth last time, I just can’t see them doing it again. I do think it will be really tight down there, though. Wolves, Bournemouth, Everton… they all look likely to struggle.
Question: Which team do you think will surprise us this season? And assuming defences have a plan to stop/slow Erling Haaland, who will win the Golden Boot this season?
Answer: Not sure how much of a surprise it will be considering how well they finished last season, but I think Aston Villa will improve again this time. If anybody is going to challenge Haaland for the Golden Boot, my money would be on Mo Salah.
Question: What would you consider success to look like this season for Newcastle? Is it about giving the Champions League a really good go at the expense of league form or focusing on finishing in the top four so we are there again next season? Is doing both achievable?
Answer: Yes, doing both is achievable. My prediction for Newcastle is fifth, which would probably be good enough for the Champions League again. Eddie Howe has so many options now. I’m hopeful, I’m optimistic. I think other teams have strengthened, but I think in the circumstances and with those extra matches to consider, fifth would be an excellent achievement. Why not? We’re bloody good.
Question: Do you think Newcastle will go further in the Champions League than in 2002-03?
Answer: That’s difficult to answer without knowing who will be in Newcastle’s group, but I think we’ll have enough to get beyond that stage (second group stage, so last 16), in large part because of the St James’ Park effect. Nobody will relish playing us at home.
Question: Who do you want to see Newcastle drawn with in the Champions League?
Answer: I would love Real Madrid or Barcelona. Because of the format of the Champions League now, unlike when I was playing for Blackburn, Newcastle are guaranteed at least one major club. Can’t wait!
Question: If you were coming into your prime this season and had interest from the top teams across Europe, where would you go and why? Purely footballing-based, so system-wise, manager-wise, squad-wise etc. Curious to hear what you would say…
Answer: You would have to look at Manchester City and Guardiola, just because of how many chances they create. I’d fancy myself to get a few goals for them, maybe even as many as Haaland!
Question: One piece I really enjoyed last season was your conversations with Sean Dyche, Gary O’Neil and Roy Hodgson. What do you think of O’Neil as a manager?
Answer: I interviewed Gary when he was at Bournemouth and I thought he did a brilliant job there. He was very harshly treated. I was surprised how it ended after doing such good things and I’m very pleased he’s got another chance so quickly in the Premier League, albeit I think Wolves will struggle. That said, he didn’t do too badly in a similar position at Bournemouth.
(Top photo: Craig Mercer/MB Media/Getty Images)