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
Itâ€™s remarkable, given the circumstances, how well the team has played early in the season and itâ€™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 theyâ€™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 shouldnâ€™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. Itâ€™s fair to say both center-backs had nightmare games, especially Dawson.
“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.â€
“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.â€
“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 Samâ€™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 Samâ€™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.