Sam: Newcastle Well Ahead of Schedule

Sam Allardyce has completely overhauled the Newcastle club since he took the reigns in the middle May.

Since then of course Mike Ashley has not only bought the club, but become its number one fan, and can bee seen at every home game and now most away fixtures, since he has tasted the passion that is Newcastle United.

Sam has been talking about the progress of the team so let’s take a look at what he’s been saying.


Sam Allardyce – happy with progress and development of the side so far this season

It’s remarkable, given the circumstances, how well the team has played early in the season and it’s credit to Faye, Beye, Cacapa, Rozehnal and the like, that they have adjusted so quickly to life in the Premiership. But adjusting is the operative word because they’re not there yet. The goal they gave away last night was a sloppy one, when somehow Darren Bent was left completely unmarked from a ball into the box.

But it was another solid performance from Newcastle against Spurs last night after a rather boring first half set alight with a minute to go by another typical opportunist Martins goal. It made Michael Dawson look rather ordinary.

Obafemi Martins, Claudio Cacapa and James Milner all scored good goals for the home side and Robbie Keane got a reply for Spurs after Bent had hit the post with a header. Robbie was left to easily score against his Ireland team mate Shay Given.

A total of 5 of Allardyce’s close season recruits started the match last night – including a completely new look back four from last season and they have settled in well, both individually and collectively and are starting to show they may be the real deal.

But we shouldn’t get too carried away although celebrating a good result is one of the delights of being a fan.
Sam said last night:

“If we can get something against Reading (on Saturday) – if we can actually beat Reading, then we would be well ahead of the schedule, I would say,”

“But we still have big teams to come. We have not played them yet, but where Tottenham have finished over the last two years, they are a big side and they have spent big, big money over the last four years and have big players, but we beat them comfortably 3-1.”

Sam was also quick to praise the good work of Oba Martins and Michael Owen in attack after the small strike duo caused Tottenham’s Michael Dawson and Younes Kaboul all kinds of anxiety at the back. It’s fair to say both center-backs had nightmare games, especially Dawson.

Sam continued:

“When we got good service to them, they showed they could cause the Tottenham defence lots of problems,”

“In the end, Oba got the goal – Michael probably only had one good chance, but worked extremely hard playing in the hole.”

“It is difficult when you have got no big man up there because you have always got to play on the floor or down the sides, you cannot play it in the air.”

“We couldn’t do that, we had to play through midfield and into feet off the front men or down the sides.

“But in the end, it paid off very well.”

It was obvious in the first half that Newcastle were playing too many high balls down the center and Dawson and company were easily heading clear. But it was a great high ball from the impressive Jose Enrique that gave Martins his chance for the vital first goal.

Michael needs credit for putting in a good shift and Newcastle fans need to give Michael some slack. He went at their defense a few times during the game and once brought a great diving save to his left out of goalkeeper Cerny, who had absolutely no cover for any of the goals.

It seems like the Newcastle team have some obvious improvement coming in several areas. In a few more games this defense is going to be very tough to penetrate, and Shay Given looked so impressive in the second half collecting several high crosses with great aplomb. We suspect Sam’s had him practicing these and it certainly showed last night.

Reading will now be a very interesting game on Saturday and 3 points will be just terrific, and will solidify a great start to the season by Sam’s new team, who must now feel very confident.

But we have to take one game at a time. A clean sheet and win would be great at reading though.

Comments welcome.

9 comments so far

  • Donno

    Oct 23, 2007 at 9:30 AM

    Comment #1

    I was at the game last night and the first half wasn’t that boring Ed. Also, I think there were only 5 of Allardyces signings that started – the back four and Geremi.

    Was great to beat Spurs – again!

    The defence looks strong and has some depth to it now – Taylor wasn’t even on the bench, Babayaro and Carr weren’t even in the squad. They were all first team players last year which just shows our strength at the back now. Still room for improvement but it’s looking good.

    Owen played well. He does a lot of work off the ball and always keeps possession. His contribution in last nights game can be easily overlooked, but he held the play up, spread the play to the wings and brought in the midfield very well.

    Good to see Emre back although he was overran last night. Having him and Barton available strengthens us even further. Remember, last night was without the likes of Smith, Viduka, Ameobi, Duff or Milner starting.

    Butt was tremendous. It’d be hard to drop him for anyone at the moment.

  • Toon Chicken

    Oct 23, 2007 at 9:46 AM

    Comment #2

    Donno – totally agree with your comments about Owen. It’s getting a bit tedious on here listening to people who quite clearly know SFA about football looking for any reason they can to try and knock him. The kid is class, and even though he didn’t see that much of the ball last night, he still looked like one of the best players on the pitch.

    We’re starting to gather a lot of decent results now, I’m sure it won’t be too long before we see a convincing performance or six!

  • Callum

    Oct 23, 2007 at 10:03 AM

    Comment #3

    I liked the role Given played last night, all i could hear was his voice shouting at the defence to clear the ball, push forward out of the box etc.. 😀

  • Callum

    Oct 23, 2007 at 10:06 AM

    Comment #4

    Also did we just win 2 games in a row for the first time since last December, ok both games were at home but you have to start a winning streak somewhere 😉

  • doby the mag

    Oct 23, 2007 at 10:14 AM

    Comment #5

    I have to agree with TC and Donno about MO, he is terrific and I can’t believe people on here are calling him. His workrate and play off the ball is first class. Nicky Butt and Cacapa were my men of the match though!!

  • leo

    Oct 23, 2007 at 10:43 AM

    Comment #6

    well that is why he got a good ovation when he was substituted. nicky butt was good but he leg go of the ball a few times in risky situations. given butt, he did get the ball straight back most of the time.

    it is great to have 17points after 9 games. things are looking good, jose enrique was very impressive. but the defencive duo faye and cacapa were awesome, sooo classy, they made their strikeforce look foolish a couple times, which i really loved

    in the first half he was sitting the opposite end of the pitch, you could see him shouting, never mind hear him. his mouth was wide most of the time, unless he was trying to catch flys, because he didnt have anything to do

  • Craig Allen

    Oct 23, 2007 at 11:01 AM

    Comment #7

    Yeah his touches were brill – often overlooked although he did try on a few occasions to run at the defense with the ball at his feet only to turn and play back or wide – he played wide a lot, urging the lads to go a bit more wide. He brought Beye lots of times into the game like that and you could see he missed Milner out wide in the 1st half. One thing was evident from the 1st half was the need for us to have two wingers on either flank. Geremi is not a winger. Zog looked slightly off – some lovely touches and movement to beat a few – but read he got flu so can understand why he looked a bit cold (lol). Not sure why Butt got MOTM – not saying he never had a good game but I feel Faye and Cacapa certainly deserved a shot at the motm. Anyway, it sure looks promising, can’t wait for Reading! HOWAY!

  • Matthew Tom

    Oct 23, 2007 at 11:06 AM

    Comment #8

    Can’t understand what Allardyce is on about, in terms of having two small strikers and having to play balls to feet or up the sides. We got better in the second half, but I seemed to spend most of the first half watching Tottenham defenders easily heading long ball after long ball back to the half way line!

  • Astidores Sanchez Blanco

    Feb 21, 2008 at 3:13 PM

    Comment #9

    It was a good performance. Hopefully we can kick on from here.


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