When Sam Allardyce arrived at Newcastle we were in the final stages of negotiating a place in the Amsterdam tournament to compete with Ajax, Lazio and Athletico Madrid â€“ but at the last moment Arsenal were chosen as the fourth team â€“ which did not please Big Sam.
Sam has again talked at length to Luke Edwards of the Journal on this, the training ground and pre-season preparation and weâ€™ll take a look â€“ as always â€“ at the interesting things Sam had to say.
Big Sam Allardyce – Good Times Ahead
Newcastle have still to finalize their pre-season fixtures with only two games – against Celtic and Hartlepool United â€“ already confirmed. That’s one of the things that still needs to be completed for pre-season preparations.
This is what Big Sam had to say last night to Luke Edwards:
“We are trying to move our recruitment of players and staff along as quickly as we can, but we are also looking to tie off our pre-season plans as well,” “We want to make sure we’ve got the right games at the right time. We’re very disappointed to lose the Ajax tournament. We’ve been dealt a rather severe blow and basically we’ve been dumped on from a great height, but we can’t do anything about that now.
“It would have been a great tournament to be in for preseason, but we have to focus on getting the right fixtures in place so that we deliver strength, conditioning and tactical scenarios throughout that. We want to build the players up right from a fitness point of view so that we don’t get any injuries.
Well there’s not too much we can do about that – maybe we can arrange a couple of friendlies with the likes of Barcelona, Beyern Munich or such. It would be nice to have a couple of star teams for the fans to see in pre-season, especially since we’re are not in Europe next season.
Sam went on:
“We’ll keep building up their all-round ability and we will monitor each individual from day one. We won’t even be training as a group; it will be individual programs or small groups. Then we will start focusing on the team shape and how we want them to play.”
“I’m really happy if we lose every single pre-season friendly. I’ve done that virtually every year at Bolton, certainly last year we hardly scored a goal and didn’t win a game, but we ended up with 20 points from the first ten matches in the Premiership.
“The fans have not got to get too worked up if we lose every pre-season game. It won’t be a worry for me and it won’t be a worry for the players. It’s just about us doing the right things and getting ready for the most important thing, which is the whistle blowing on August 11 and winning that first Premiership game, not some meaningless preseason friendlies.”
That’s OK as far as we are concerned – pre-season is about trying things out, looking at players, trying different combinations of the team and the like. While it’s always nice to win – and we must have a winning mentality next season – it’s not the priority in pre-season. Sam then talked about the club’s training ground at Little Benton, built five years ago – and already out of date – read on:
“While it’s a massive football club, its achievement has been minimal over the last few years. I’m here to try to change that and we are going to try to get as many things as we can in place for the start of what will be a very important first season for me. I want to make the training ground better. It isn’t a place for professional footballers to work on a day-to-day basis.
“This is a squash club converted.
My vision in the long term is to create an all-encompassing building that would excite everybody who walks through the door every day. “The players will be in a rush to get here and they won’t want to go home as quickly as they do now. “That’s the long term and then there is the short term which is the most important at the moment.”
One thing we liked about Glenn Roeder is he seemed to have a vision for the future. What has really surprised us about Sam – is that he does also. Now we understand better how he interviewed for the England job so well. Not only that but he knows his plans have to be both short term – in terms of how do we immediately start winning in August (draft in quality experienced Premiership players for one) while at the same time thinking about where we want to be in say three years – and what things at the club will need to be upgraded to meet that vision.
Looks like the training ground is one.
We have to say that every time we read what Sam says – it seems well thought out – he knows what he wants – he knows where he’s going – and seems to come across very well.
That’s one reason Newcastle fans right now are in football heaven – as we anxiously await the new season.
Comments as usual always appreciated – agreeing or not – either is OK.