Newcastle and Arsenal legend Malcolm Macdonald talks to TheFA.com.
Newcastle and Arsenal legend Malcolm Macdonald sings the praises of Alan Shearer, explains why Jonathan Woodgate should stay in the north-east and reveals which modern midfield player he would love to have played with.
Nobody has equalled Malcolm Macdonald’s record of five goals for England against Cyprus in 1975. There are many who believe he deserved more than 14 caps, many of them as substitute.
SuperMac joined Newcastle from Luton Town and is still revered in the north-east as one of the club’s legendary No.9s. After a knee injury forced his premature retirement at Arsenal, SuperMac was a successful Fulham manager – taking them within a whisker of the old First Division.
After a spell living in Italy, he is now back on Tyneside and attends every Newcastle home game.
Then - Are you surprised your record of scoring five goals in an England shirt has stood for 29 years?
Not at all. That match at Wembley against Cyprus was one of those rare and incredible nights where everything fell into place for me. Gary Lineker has come close since then but it would take an extraordinary performance to equal five goals, and an even more extraordinary performance to beat it. I don’t see why it won’t take another 20 years to beat it.
Now - Does Alan Shearer deserve to be ranked alongside Jackie Milburn as Newcastle's greatest no.9?
History has a tendency to rosy up the memory of players and matches from the past. While Jackie Milburn is a legend, Alan Shearer has earned the right to be ranked up there with the very best.
Fifty years from now when memories are fading, all that will be left are the record books. Shearer has equalled and bettered so many records in the hardest aspect of the game – scoring goals.
He’s done it in his homeland and been so consistent, he scores season after season. Without doubt, there hasn’t been a better No9.
Then - Did anyone ever beat you in a sprint in training?
Honestly, no. We had some quick lads at Newcastle like Alan Kennedy and Stewart Barraclough but I still got to the line first! Three opponents were particularly quick I remember – Martin Buchan at Manchester United, Colin Todd of Derby and Ipswich’s Kevin Beattie.
Now - You moved from Newcastle to Arsenal in your prime. Can Jonathan Woodgate fulfil his ambitions by staying on Tyneside?
He can and he should remember that I didn’t win another England cap after joining Arsenal.
The question that Sven Goran Eriksson should be asking is not ‘Who should partner Sol Campbell’ but ‘Who should play alongside Jonathan Woodgate?’
He is a rare and outstanding player. If he stays fit and keeps playing out of his skin, he will become an England regular wherever he plays his club football.
Then - What are you proudest of in management?
It’s the fact that years later I have a very good relationship with all my old players. I am forever bumping into the Fulham boys like Gordon Davies, Ray Lewingon, Tony Gale and Les Strong.
We won promotion to the old Second Division and very narrowly missed out on getting into the First Division. Along the way, the player discovered that success is a hugely enjoyable thing.
Now - Which modern midfielder would be your best supplier of chances?
He’s not the biggest name in the Premiership but I have a feeling I would click with Edu of Arsenal.
What I like about him is that his first option is always to look forward, to see if the through ball is on. He goes for that first, if a forward pass isn’t on then he will go to Plan B.
The Englishman who really excites me from midfield is Paul Scholes, I think he would have set me up with a few chances!
Then - Was your brash style based on Muhammad Ali?
I got a reputation about making predictions but it was unfair, the newspaper men used to take liberties and create quotes I never made.
I only once made a prediction about a result, I said we would beat Leeds United when they were going for the championship - and we did 1-0. A lot of the other stuff you read was invented really.
Now - Is Thierry Henry the best striker of the Premiership era?
Possibly, but the question I ask myself is whether he would have achieved what he has in a lesser side. Henry is clearly a fantastic talent but it isn’t everyone’s good fortune to play in the best side in the country. If you are that lucky man, it is a damn sight easier.
Do you not think Alan Shearer must wish Newcastle could play like Arsenal? If Shearer was in the Arsenal team, he might have won just as much and scored as many goals.