Alan Smith, when he first signed from Manchester United a couple of weeks ago seemed a strange signing by Sam Allardyce. Smith likes to play center forward, which he played at Leeds with Mark Viduka being his partner, and we already had six strikers at the club.
But Alan was deployed in midfield on Saturday and he looked like he had played there all his career as he, Nicky Butt and Geremi over-ran Bolton in the first half and completely dominated the midfield.
What a change in Newcastle since the end of last season â€“ it was just amazing (and so exciting) to watch.
Alan Smith – a great team player who always gives 100%
If we thought Smith was a strange signing , his first few appearances for Newcastle have shown he’ll be a key player in the months ahead â€“ and he’s an all round footballer with great character and ambition – and has already made himself a crowd favorite with Newcastle fans..
Alan told the Journal this morning:
â€œI think we surprised Bolton a little bit,â€
â€œWe showed Bolton that weâ€™re no pushovers, thatâ€™s something the manager has been keen to instill in us.â€
â€œGoing to Bolton is always one of the most physical games you can get in the Premier League â€“ the lads have lost their last five games there, so we always understood it would be a difficult game.â€
â€œBut the supporters wanted commitment and passion and everyone showed that at the weekend. I hope that will continue.â€
Allardyce must have been pleased with Newcastle’s performance in the first half and the television shots of Sam and Chris Mort sitting together at the Reebok, showed that what they have done so far at Newcastle has all worked dramatically well – long may it last. It was hard for Chris not to smile but Sam still seemed all business, even after the third goal.
Saturdayâ€™s performance underlined the impact the 52-year-old Allardyce has had at St James’ Park in the first three months of his tenure and we hope that we can get in a few more players before August 31st to ensure we don’t come up short again in the size of our squad.
Alan went on:
â€œIâ€™m sure the gaffer has a million more ideas that he wants to put to us and thereâ€™s still a lot of hard work to be done,â€
â€œWe have got to build on the result at Bolton because one result gets you nothing in a season.”
“Itâ€™s difficult to judge the clubâ€™s prospects after one game, but I hope we can build on that result.”
â€œWeâ€™ve put pressure on ourselves because the expectation will be there for us to go and beat Aston Villa at St Jamesâ€™ Park this weekend.”
“Itâ€™s within our capabilities, but we still have to go out and do it.â€
Although he started his career as a center-forward at Leeds, found himself deployed in a withdrawn position during Saturdayâ€™s game but that doesn’t worry Alan who went on:.
â€œIâ€™m happy to play there and Iâ€™m happy to get better in those positions,â€
â€œI enjoyed the role I played at Bolton. When I spoke to the manager, he told me I would be playing in any one of the front six positions.â€
â€œWhen youâ€™re not at home, that positionâ€™s a little bit different.”
“You canâ€™t get as forward as much because you have defensive responsibilities. But thatâ€™s no problem.â€
Smith admitted the goal they gave away on Saturday was sloppy as a quick breakaway from a Newcastle corner caught too many Newcastle players upfield.Â Smith went on:
â€œIt was a sloppy goal that came from our corner, but weâ€™ll be working on that before next weekend,â€â€œWe were disappointed to concede because the center-halves (Steven Taylor and David Rozehnal) were outstanding. We will continue to work hard.â€
â€œEveryone knows the pressure that there is at the two clubs Iâ€™ve played for before I came to Newcastle,â€
â€œThe pressure wonâ€™t bother me, Iâ€™m looking forward to it.”
“Everyone knows what the atmosphere is like at St James’ Park and how good the fans are. To be successful here would be unbelievable.â€
He’s so right there with that last sentence. It will be important to keep the good form going on Saturday and now Aston Villa will be ready for Newcastle’s onslaught in the first half. It will be a difficult game and much closer than at Bolton last Saturday. But it’s a game we must win to keep our initial momentum going – and also every league point this year must be fought for – they will be that important to get Newcastle back where we belong – in Europe. We also know that Smith will be giving 100% in every minute of every game for us this season – and showing his true Yorkshire grit.
Comments always welcome.