Multiple Selection Headaches for Allardyce

Newcastle manager Sam Allardyce is starting to face a number of selection posers for the Newcastle team to play Derby County a week today at Pride Park.

This is exactly what Sam needs to ensure the team continue at their peak form and collect as many league points as possible before the end of the year. Given we are doing well then we can then further strengthen the squad in January for a push for the highest league position we can get to before the end of the season. The midfield will probably be the area we can strengthen most in the January transfer window.

We do have a number of games coming up so most players will get a game.


Sam Allardyce – summer strengthening of squad has given him selection problems – good

So what does Big Sam have to decide?

  • Emre is back to fitness after being out injured almost all season, but he did play 90 minutes for Turkey in their 2-2 draw with Malta on Saturday. Emre can provide some of the creativity that has been missing in Newcastle’s midfield with the absence of both Barton and Emre so far due to injury. The fact that yesterday Emre said he wants to leave Newcastle for Galatasaray in Turkey doesn’t help anything. Seems to us that Emre doesn’t look forward to the competition for places, which is disappointing. However, we think Sam will want to weigh up Emre’s talent and he could well be used at Derby.
  • Who to choose as goalkeeper. Given had an excellent game for Ireland against Slovakia but Steve Harper couldn’t have played much better in the games he has played for Newcastle this season. This is a difficult one for Sam since he will want to keep both players happy – we think Harper will get the nod – simply because it’s difficult right now to leave him out given his displays of late.
  • What will the defensive back four be? This may be a big one for Sam because it looks to us the best back four right now is
    Beye Cacapa Rozehnal N’Zogbia
    No place for Steven Taylor. We understand Beye will start but why is it taking so long to get Enrique into the team? Once Jose is ready and slots in at left-back Sam can play Milner and N’Zogbia on the wings in a 4-4-2 formation. We would then have a sturdy defense but also be able to attack quickly down either wing.
  • Last one for Sam is who starts up front. We think Ameobi and Owen – assuming Viduka is not yet ready due to his hamstring injury. We think Shola deserves a start to see what he can do – and that Owen also deserves a start because he is looking very sharp now. That’s not to say Oba Martins will not figure. Oba is a favorite of ours and also with most fans. He did a great job in the win over Wigan when he came on and made Owen’s goal from the right wing. We’d expect him to get a good run out in the second half against Derby – depending on how the game is going.

We expect a clean sheet and a win and see no reason why this cannot be accomplished. Yes, that’s asking a lot especially away from home but this is possible if Sam’s team is as good as we think it is.

You can comment on the game on our forum – we’ve had quite a few posts on the game already.

As far as the Derby game goes what do you think?
Let us know – a win will put us nicely up the league table.

31 comments so far

  • Lamesley Mag

    Sep 10, 2007 at 10:10 AM

    Comment #1

    We should beat Derby, but don’t anticipate BSA tinkering too much with the team that beat Wigan, although he’ll possibly blood Beye and give Enrique another run out.

    This will allow Zog and Milner to cause havoc on the flanks.

    Faye may get a 30 minute run out but can’t see Emre getting in the squad!

    If Viduka is still carrying a knock, Ameobio will play. If not, Viduka will start up front with either Owen or Martins.

  • Mart

    Sep 10, 2007 at 10:26 AM

    Comment #2

    I’m looking forward to seeing both our new fullbacks in action and of course letting Zog move forward, from where he can score more wonder goals.

    Very disappointed in Emre who has always been backed by the fans. Big disrespect to us from him. Why not fight for a place and then leave quietly in January if you dont like it. To come out and ask to leave , now he isn’t guaranteed a first team place, shows a complete lack of bottle and is not what Toon fans want. I expect BSA to kick his @rse for us.

    Next league game cant come soon enough – and its a few seasons since I’ve felt like this.

    BTW – MA if u read this blog, we’ll be in the Trent after the next home game. Cheers !

  • Steve K

    Sep 10, 2007 at 10:34 AM

    Comment #3

    Given should come in for Harper. Harper has had a good run, not doubt, but Shay has long since confirmed he is by far the better ‘keeper. Harper’s personal situation shouldn’t come into it, Shay is a better keeper and if things get tough against Derby we all know Shay is better equipped to deal with it. Sentimentality about Harper and his loyalty again, doesn’t come into it. The keeper situation was decided years ago, lets leave it that way.

    As for the defence, assuming Enrique is fit and adjusted from his move this is a perfect game to introduce him into to. Games don’t get any easier than Derby. And as mentioned above including N’Zogbia into that midfield should be a priority.

  • Jerry

    Sep 10, 2007 at 10:35 AM

    Comment #4

    All pertninent factors judged objectively, I would say Emre when fit is by far the best creative midfielder on our books and must be definite starter in midfield for NUFC. But thats only my view.

    We simply havent got a player of his ilk and ability on our books. It seems he has realised that Big Sam doesnt fancy him because of his “small stature”.

    You cant begrudge a man for wanting to ply his trade elsewhere if because of his size he wont be given a fair chance.

  • Toon! Toon!

    Sep 10, 2007 at 10:37 AM

    Comment #5

    Its an interesting headache for any manager to have with people coming back from fitness problems, and generally a decent squad full of places for competition.

    I find it poor that any players can “give up” al a Emre when theres a little competition… this competition is for the good of the team and the players and defeatist attitudes are not needed or wanted in one of the big teams. I think if we can get a couple of Million for him then that would be good business for January!

    Defence is one of the biggest headaches, but I would say for BSA to play what he thinks is his strongest and not be swayed by the fans, contracts and zealous fathers.. if we have stronger players for positions, then they need to be played regardless of who is upset by being left on the bench… some players will either need to perform better and more consistently in training, or wait until they mature more and have that little bit more experience (I wrote elsewhere that i think maybe by the end of the season should Steven Taylor start to really be coming in to his own as a first choicer, at the moment roz/cacapa look more professional and solid tbh… if I can see that BS can deffo see it and other fans that think that Taylor is ready now need to remove their black and white scarf from blowing in their eyes! 😉

    Up front is the hardest choice with so many options… again, pick the on-form players, if nothing else it will weed out those aren’t prepared to be team players and think they are gods gift and presume they should be automatic 1st choice… this needs to be earned!

  • Craig Allen

    Sep 10, 2007 at 10:53 AM

    Comment #6

    I’m very anxious to see Enrique play – two reasons – 1) seeing him play to his potential, 2) seeing Zog move into midfield.

    Hope Sam gives Enrique a start against Derby.


    Sep 10, 2007 at 11:04 AM

    Comment #7

    My team against Derby – GK given RB taylor LB enrique CB rozenhal CB cacapa RM milner LM n’zogbia CM butt CM faye FW martins FW owen SUBS harper beye smith ameobi viduka

  • lee

    Sep 10, 2007 at 11:11 AM

    Comment #8

    Goal: Given
    Defence: Beye, Cacapa, Rozehnal, Enrique/NZogbia
    Midfield: Milner, Geremi, Smith, NZogbia/Emre
    Forward: Viduka, Owen/Martins

  • tommyinaustralia

    Sep 10, 2007 at 11:35 AM

    Comment #9

    taylor cacapa rozenhal enrique
    milner geremi smith/emre/butt nzogbia
    owen dukes


  • gordon

    Sep 10, 2007 at 11:55 AM

    Comment #10

    I disagree with the goalkeeper situation given might be a slightly better shot stopper than harper but as in the slovakia game he looked very shaky at crosses coming in.Harper is far better commanding his area hence the defence looks more solid.

  • Ed

    Sep 10, 2007 at 12:01 PM

    Comment #11

    i hope the team we play is:

    harper [fresher than given]

    beye [match fit, should walk into the team] cacapa [freshers than roz] tayls [same as cacapa] enrique [has talent, eager to see him play, releases zog]

    milner [much better than smith on the wing] germei [C] smith/butt [not sure… emre prob rested] nZog [on form]

    martins [rest owen] ameobi [deserves chance]

    hope we go 442.

  • melbourne mag

    Sep 10, 2007 at 12:04 PM

    Comment #12

    the sooner the new fullbacks get introduced the better; creativity will improve no end with zog pushed into midfield

    my team:

    beye, cacapa rozenhal enrique
    milner geremi, smith, nzogbia
    owen, shola

    …and a 2-0 win for the lads!

  • nightfall

    Sep 10, 2007 at 12:17 PM

    Comment #13

    owen martins

    n’zogbia butt geremi milner

    enrique rozehnal cacapa taylor


    subs: ameobi, smith, faye, beye, harper

  • rich

    Sep 10, 2007 at 12:23 PM

    Comment #14

    Surely we have to start breeding Enrique into the squad against Derby, if he cant play against Derby what the hell did we pay almost 7 million for him for?


    Milner Geremi Butt Zog


    Subs: Owen, Smith, Barton (If Fit), Faye, Ameobi.

    I think Owen will be on the bench as Martins will be alot fitter as he hasnt played a game during this international break due to his wee lad being ill.

  • Jerry

    Sep 10, 2007 at 1:11 PM

    Comment #15

    Can someone justify as to why Alan Smith commands a regular first team place in NUFC’s midfield?

  • iain

    Sep 10, 2007 at 1:21 PM

    Comment #16

    i think smith/martins will play upfront. i still think sam will take it easy with owen and see how he is after the england games.

    harper should stay in goal, its not going to help taylors contract talks if he says squad players playing well being dropped, might make him think he wont play enough games. hopefully beye/enrique will get starts.

    the only question imo in mf is to give emre a start, it will depend on the formation imo. as i doubt sam will play him central in a 422, but he could play lw if enrique isnt ready and zig plays lb again.




    the starting 11 above can go 442 and 433 without having to change any players. milner would just go up top as a wide forward with martins wide and smith down the middle.

  • goal

    Sep 10, 2007 at 1:53 PM

    Comment #17



  • Joe

    Sep 10, 2007 at 2:31 PM

    Comment #18

    I would have Iain’s team definately. Owen is fit, I have no doubt about that. But I would like to see how Smith and Martins work up front in a little game and leave Owen to be fresh for the bigger games.

    There are question marks over our full backs at the moment so we might see Tayls at RB and Zog at LB, which would probably mean a start for Emre in left midfield.

  • Lin

    Sep 10, 2007 at 2:35 PM

    Comment #19

    I think Martin should be prior to Owen for two reasons. First, Owen will have palyed 3 games continually, so I think he should have a rest to avoid any possibility of getting injury. Second, Martins is in superb condition now, so don’t let him down by putting him on the bench.

  • stjames

    Sep 10, 2007 at 2:40 PM

    Comment #20

    Ed: Emre can provide some of the creativity that has been missing in Newcastle’s midfield ….

    I’m sorry but Ican’t see the creativity.

  • Marguerite

    Sep 10, 2007 at 4:16 PM

    Comment #21

    Bad timing but I will be down in Monday night, does anyone of our Southern based bloggers know which pubs are likely to carry Setanta so that I can see the match? Will not go down too well with relatives but tough.

  • Marguerite

    Sep 10, 2007 at 4:17 PM

    Comment #22

    Sorry about that crucial word missing ISLINGTON

  • TOON1

    Sep 10, 2007 at 4:31 PM

    Comment #23

    My team against derby;
    owen /martyns

  • Rich

    Sep 10, 2007 at 7:45 PM

    Comment #24

    Why has 98% of the ppl on here forgot about Viduka?

    why would we play Smith upfront ahead of Viduka?

    i really wonder sometimes.

    Owen will not start the Derby game, Martins has not played due to his wee bairn and Owen will have played for England so hell be rested, Viduka hasnt played so i would put 100 quid on a Martins/Viduka pairing.

  • Dirk

    Sep 10, 2007 at 8:46 PM

    Comment #25


    subs.given, faye, rozenhal, smith, geremi

    let owen rest and let ameobi and martins hav a full game 2getha, rest rozenhal and c how taylor and cacapa look 2getha, giv harper the start and introduce given late on.

  • hadrian

    Sep 10, 2007 at 8:49 PM

    Comment #26

    forget this big man little man nonsense , play whoever is in form , and as it stands now that is owen and martins .

  • PK-Norway

    Sep 10, 2007 at 9:10 PM

    Comment #27






  • michael

    Sep 10, 2007 at 9:18 PM

    Comment #28

    Emre is crap. I’ve been saying this for weeks, he’s been showing us for 2 years. Never once impressed me, and if the window was still open he’d go. Faye, Taylor and Enrique, sorry boys but the bench beckons. Emre won’t even get that far. Bleeding mincer.

  • Sinead

    Sep 10, 2007 at 11:13 PM

    Comment #29

    Given looked shaky under crosses?? Did you see our defense?? Given if anything was commanding under most of the croses. Harper might seem more controlling under croses (even though try to remember the last time ye saw Given play) beside Sat I can’t really remember how he was under croses. Harper might look more convincing under croses, maybe that’s because Given, for a keeper is pretty small of course Harper will look more convincing under croses, escpecially when no one can really remember what he was like under croses, we haven’t seen him in a Toon shirt for a couple of months.

    Given to start. He’s the better keeper, great Harper’s loyal and hasn’t made any mistakes, but Given’s better and that’s football for ya, it mightn’t seem fair but the better player should play.

  • philsta

    Sep 11, 2007 at 8:25 AM

    Comment #30

    BSA should not risk everything in this game and allow new players to slowly bleed into the team. Despite Derby considered to be an “easy” team, we can’t possibly introduce all our new or returning players all in one go. This will cause problems in terms of cohesion for the team and especially as most 1st team players have delivered in the past weeks.

    There hasn’t been too much being mentioned about Enrique, so I assume he’s not going to start but there’s a lot of noise about Beye starting. My team would be as follows:

    Zog, Cacapa, Roz, Beye
    Milner, Smith, Butt, Geremi
    Owen, Ameobi

    Subs: Martins, Emre, Taylor, Enrique, Given

    This formation allows for a high level of flexibility as we have coverage for every position on the field, with Smith pushing up a little more should we need some more strength up field in the 1st half.

    Scenario 1: Should we score 1 or 2 by half time, we can bleed Enrique by putting him and taking off Milner, to allow for Zog and Enrique to work together while maintaining steel in the midfield, and put Martins on for Owen to rest the England striker. Later on, with the win firmly in the bag, Emre can come in for 10 minutes to get some more match practise in place of Smith.

    Scenario 2: Should we need to be more attacking, we can revert to a 3 man defence of Capaca, Roz and Beye, move Zog up to left wing, switch Milner for Martins on the right and replace Smith for Emre with both Zog and Milner blowing down the wings, Emre orchestrating the attacks and Geremi and Butt playing solid as defensive midfielders.

    I honestly think that any attack will find it difficult to beat a defensive unit of Butt + Geremi + Capaca + Roz + Beye and nor will many defenses be able to cope with Owen + Martins + Ameobi + Zog + Emre …

  • Joe

    Sep 14, 2007 at 1:01 PM

    Comment #31

    Sinead – sorry to piss on your bonfire love, but Given and Harps are pretty much the same height!!

    And you reckon we haven’t seen Harps in a toon shirt for a couple of months…who was keeper for the toon in the last league game…and the game before that….and before that…


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