Final Reflections on the Reading Newcastle Game



It was a performance Big Sam had warned his Newcastle side he did not want to see. A performance that gave away sloppy goals and where some players didn’t turn up. It was shades of Derby Count and Manchester City all over again.

A poor away performance and a defeat was the result yesterday at the Madejski Stadium in Reading. What Sam didn’t want he got in spades yesterday – what’s going on?


Sam Allardyce – yes Sam – it was that bad

  • We need to play our wingers so we have some width. When Milner and N’Zogbia came on we looked more balanced and threatening. Other managers have tried playing central midfielders on the wing and it doesn’t work. If Geremi doesn’t deserve his place – put him on the bench.
  • Let’s play Zog and Milner on the wings for the Portsmouth game. In central midfield we need Butt or Geremi as defensive midfield and Barton or Emre as attacking midfield. That will give us a balanced midfield. Up front we need Viduka and Owen or Martins. Choose between Owen or Martins.
  • The defense continues to be a big concern. The miscommunication between Cacapa and Given in the first half was a good example. To get over this hesitancy Given must take all the responsibility at the back. He cannot wait for balls to be played back – he has to come for them or some how let the defenders know how he wants the balls played to him
  • Owen and Martins up front reduce our options too much. The players were hesitating about playing any high balls in and it showed. It will be good to have Viduka back next Saturday but we need another good big man in January because Mark is injured too much – and we don’t think Shola can get the job done.
  • It was good that Joey Barton got the full game in – he will get better. We though Joey was OK and Emre also played OK.
  • How long do we have to wait before we stop giving stupid goals away? We had not right to be in the game with 15 minutes to go and drawing 1-1. But even then we through the point away. Good teams yesterday could have grabbed all 3 points in a smash and grab raid. After our goal we thought Newcastle had a chance of actually winning – but then that Lon goal was – well pathetic.
  • David Rozehnal should be reinstalled and Sam will need to rest some of his favorite players, like Cacapa – who did not have a good game.
  • Yesterday was a big let down for the fans. The players just didn’t look like they would get the job done and then when Reading obliged to have us level with 15 minutes to go – we still couldn’t take the gift point that was on offer. The fans have every right to be frustrated.
  • The Reading fans must be happy today. They don’t have much money to spend and don’t have too many really great players but as a team and individually they worked their socks off and it looked like they had more men than us on the filed just because of their work rate and refusal to be beaten. That’s what we thought we’d see from a Sam Allardyce side this season – but they were outfought and outplayed yesterday. It was reading’s real lack of a cutting edge that almost let them down – but they got all 3 points – and they deserved to on the day. What this says about our team yesterday is very worrying.
  • Well we’ll have to get over this disappointment and we obviously got ahead of ourselves after the good win against Tottenham. But it will be important to get all 3 points against Portsmouth next Saturday – and Portsmouth have a lot better players than Reading. Even if we gain a good victory we’ll need to temper it by our away form. Until we turn up for away games talk of Europe is premature.
  • It’s not easy being a Newcastle United fan. It never has been easy being a Newcastle United fan. 😀

Let’s have your comments – what do you think we should do next – which players now deserve a run out – which players do we need in January.
Your comments and opinions are always very welcome – keep it clean though – thanks.

33 comments so far

  • Nick C

    Oct 28, 2007 at 10:46 AM

    Comment #1

    I don’t know what it is about NUFC but we always seem to play in this insipid, clueless manner after a couple of decent displays. How can we dominate many teams at home and perform miserably against weaker opposition away from home?
    Our next away match is at Sunderland. A Performance like those witnessed at Derby, City and Reading will result in inevitable defeat. Getting turned over there is unthinkable. It’s time to earn your money, Sam.

  • Brisbane Mag

    Oct 28, 2007 at 10:54 AM

    Comment #2

    Team selection for Reading was poor. We needed at least 1 winger on the park from the start (Zog and/or Milner), Barton’s not ready “yet” and should have been brought on in second half for Emre or Geremi.

    Team selection and substitutions from the Spurs game was spot on, so why change a winning formula?

    We started off against Reading with a defensive team and although we nearly snatched a point, we got what we deserved; nothing!

  • Rob

    Oct 28, 2007 at 10:55 AM

    Comment #3

    Lets start attacking teams away from home, stop this gameplan of playing for -0-0 1-0 which is never going to work, and no tops sides do this. If we want to be a top side then at least attempt to play like one, everyone keeps banging on that we have fantasitc indivual players so treat them like that and let them go and play, home and away, keeps up the momentum if nothing else when we go away.

  • indian toon

    Oct 28, 2007 at 11:11 AM

    Comment #4


  • Ged

    Oct 28, 2007 at 11:13 AM

    Comment #5

    Excellent summary of the game and big Sam’s flaws…… Newcastle gifted 3 points to Reading. I wasn’t really convinced watching the Spurs game (who were playing like a team who knew there manager was on borrowed time) and sure enough we come a cropper on the road again. Geremi just doesn’t deserve his place in the side at the minute (neither does Shay in my opinion) and the game cried out for Smith and a ‘little un’ up front. We need either zog or milner to give some width when we are playing away ( but possibly not both)and I want Barton aand Butt in the middle with maybe Emre coming on as an impact player away from home. We need big Faye paired with a ‘footballing’ centre half …either roz or cas but on yesterdays performance I think Roz deserves another go. Big Sam has now dropped max points against Derby/Reading and Citeh as well as gifting points to the likes of Villa and the smogs……..we haven’t played the likes of manyoo/chelski and the gooners yet for christs sake!!!!! I can see a bleak mid winter if he doesn’t pick the right combo and stick to it!

    I’m not moaning because we lost I’m moaning because most fans know the changes we need to make to the side but Sam insists on playing his favourites!

  • Joe

    Oct 28, 2007 at 11:20 AM

    Comment #6

    Sam got his tactics all wrong. His selection was terrible.
    Four centre mids playing in midfield. Thats shite that. Then he took Martins off 😐 It should of been, from the start

    Beye Cacapa Faye Enriqie
    Milner Butt Emre N’zogbia
    Martins Smith

    Barton I though was shite. Cacapa and Faye looked shite aswell. Give Rozehnal and Taylor another run out. Competition for places right? Big Sam said. Play crap and you’re out. He needs to stick to his word now.

  • Ross

    Oct 28, 2007 at 11:21 AM

    Comment #7

    I cant beleive we started the game without the Zog. 7th best player in the league at the moment. A Reading team that has been gifting goals, I thought it would have been obvious to attack and panic them from the start. Very poor tactics from big sam.

  • indian toon

    Oct 28, 2007 at 11:25 AM

    Comment #8

    the reason sam didnt start with the winger’s was that he wanted to hav impact in the later stages of the game , when the royals were tiring.. they closed us down well. never let us settle.. THE BOO BOYS WERE IN ACTION AGAIN. booing the substitution of martins.. i completely support them in this matter.. little micky should hav been subbed.

  • Jerry

    Oct 28, 2007 at 11:44 AM

    Comment #9

    When we have a Manager like Allardyce, do you really expect us to be challenging for a top 4 position? How can a whole NUFC before a game against READING, be talking up a DRAW as a great result??!!! This is ridiculous.

    And all this nonsense about best start in 10 years is even more ridiculous. We haven’t even played any worthy team and if truth be told we should won ALL our matches to date – if we re truly looking for a top 4 finish.

    My prediction is it wont be long before we hear chants of Allardyce out! – Unless NUFC start to play with flair and invention!!!!!!

  • bowsie

    Oct 28, 2007 at 11:47 AM

    Comment #10

    yeah some questions need to be asked about sam’s selections. the lack of width is crippling, especially when we need to get better quality ball into the two small fellas.

    leaving the zog on the bench? madness.

  • wsq

    Oct 28, 2007 at 11:53 AM

    Comment #11

    let’s play games to win them, teams that get clean sheets attack! they don’t sit back and hope to rough it out. that’s championship football. You think chelsea, liverpool and man utd get clean sheets by sitting back like us! don’t be a moron, statistics if not gleaned on properly can mislead you!

  • wsq

    Oct 28, 2007 at 11:56 AM

    Comment #12

    doesn’t he know the chances of letting in a goal is higher if the opponent has control of the ball and the game! if you want clean sheets get a hold of the game. why can’t these managers equate simple stuff.

  • indian toon

    Oct 28, 2007 at 12:03 PM

    Comment #13

    one thing your’e missing here sir , is that our boys were completely outplayed. reading never let us settle onto the ball. they closed us down. that made it really hard for us and we gave away the ball due to closing down of their player’s and pressure..there is no point critising our very own manager as he is still tryin to make them gel together.. and tryin to find the right combination, positions for the player’s. but there’s no denying he’s got his favourites..

  • AdamCF

    Oct 28, 2007 at 12:09 PM

    Comment #14

    What’s with the love affair with Michael Owen. He should’ve been subbed instead of Martins and his second efforts are ordinary along with his defensive pressure after he loses the ball. Front 2 need to be Viduka(if fit)/Smith and Martins.

  • Doctapaul

    Oct 28, 2007 at 12:22 PM

    Comment #15

    “deserved to be level?-…. have to say we didn’t ” – Big Sam (Ed Note. ta for honesty!)

    I have been watching football for years. I enjoy studying the game; consider myself fairly knowledgeable, until yesterday. I have gone down in my own estimation.

    What is “Sam’s game”? I never really understood why Sam got up other big team managers’ noses whilst he was at Bolton. They always seemed to mix guile, the physical with talent – and did very well thank you very much. BUT yesterday I saw nowt.

    Let’s start up front. 2 players, good if not great goal scorers. Owen and Martins didn’t marshall one shot between them. Not 1. Yes they are a new together duo and yes they probably need 6-10 games to work things out AND they won’t be given the chance.

    Let me digress a little and paraphrase comments made by Carlos Queiroz on MOTD yesterday of, two other new-together, not-tall and “too similar” strikers, Rooney and Tevez.

    1) “They can read the game
    2) They can move, they can touch, they can make penetration passes
    3) It’s specially very important to get rid of the marking positions.
    4) And when you do that with the support of the midfield, with quality passes, with the right time, to the right space…

    It comes more easy,of course, for the forwards.”

    WELL… yesterday I saw a number of times when Owen and Martins pulled the central defenders wide – and that’s about it.

    I didn’t see any midfielder running (until Zog came on) into the boxes at either end of the field.

    Barton, (first game after lay off I know) was innocuous. Emre was yards away, when Lita (and other Reading player both unmarked) should have scored. Emre is ok on the ball but defensively he was a luxury item that we can’t afford. Butt made a few uncharacteristic errors and Geremi looks ok defending but didn’t go past a player or put in a telling pass- did anyone (apart from Zog)?

    (Furthermore Manu U have 2 players in Ronaldo and Nani who can ghost past players. Chelsea have Cole and in Lampard a player who carves up telling passes with the outside of his foot. Ouch.)


    If Sam’s game is to put up a blanket wall away to teams that we should be taking on and beating – then he can stick it.

    I for one ain’t gonna waste my money to watch that style of tripe football.

    At this canter, Newcastle will end up half way down the league at best.

    I still haven’t seen us play well, home or away, for 90 mins all season.

  • JohnR

    Oct 28, 2007 at 12:33 PM

    Comment #16

    Big Sams ideas on how to get away results needs to change. I read all his pre match comments and began to worry that we would hand the initiative to Reading from the start. That how it turned out. We have good players, but we need to play in a positive way. You cannot give the opposition the ball and challenge then to break you down, you must strive to use the ball and get them on the back foot. We have enough creative players to destroy teams like Reading. Our creative wide men were left out, and Smith should have played in support of Owen. These are all players which can hold and use the ball safely, and constantly ask questions of defenders. Martins is a talented player, but in my view still has a lot to learn. Time and time again he receives the ball in simple situations only to try the impossible and loose the possession the team has fought for. He also is a prolific misser of good chances. He is a hard worker and a good impact player along with Emre, and for that reason he should never have started the game. Nobody is suggesing we should throw caution to the wind at away games, but surely you must present the opposition with some problems and use players who are safe in possession whist being a threat. I wonder if Sam has some ingrained ideas from his years with the Bolton players. The away results are speaking for themselves.

  • JakartaDean

    Oct 28, 2007 at 12:49 PM

    Comment #17

    Didn’t see the game last night (not available here), but I would agree with most of your suggestions based on what I’ve seen so far.

    Milner and Zoggy wide — no brainer. I like either Butt or Barton inside, and Emre must start. I realize that excludes Geremi, our captain, but I don’t see how he fits in.

    I do like Owen and Oba up front — I can’t make up my mind about Viduka. He’s largely a fat lazy f*ck, but then he goes and scores a goal and I have to change my mind. I can’t criticize BSA for putting Viduka in, or leaving him out. He’s not a 90 minute player though, under any circumstances.

    I also like Cacapa back, although I understand he disappointed last night. Enrique is settling in just fine. Rozenhal seems to know what he’s doing, as does Faye. I haven’t seen much of Beye, due to the TV schedule here, so can’t comment. I did see vidoes of the last goal, and the miscommunication was something that would make me cringe at a U13 level. We’ve gotta do something, and I’ve got a hunch that Rozenhal is that something, but can’t support that with facts.

    That leaves Smith, Viduka, Taylor and Geremi in no-man’s land, and I truly like them all. We’ve got the talent, but not the teamwork. It’s early days, but maybe it’s time to put less emphasis in training on set pieces and more on communication.

  • Soren

    Oct 28, 2007 at 1:06 PM

    Comment #18

    Sam needs to evolve his game and stop playing too defensive. It worked at Bolton but thier he didn’t have the same players as he has at Newcastle. Newcastle needs to play attacking football, and especially at a game like Reading away. Newcastle doesn’t need to play for 1 point like Bolton have done in the past. We are a big club and big clubs need wins to stay at the top where they belong, and you wont be in the top if you play for 1 point away, we need 3 points! then why not go for them instead of playing defensive-longball and hope for a draw. That said I would also remind people to be patient with Sam, as he nor the team needs anyone shouting about Sam getting sacked or what so ever. Lets get behind the team and fire them up!

  • Doctapaul

    Oct 28, 2007 at 1:17 PM

    Comment #19

    Well said Soren.

    I’m listening to Big Sam right now on Goals on Sunday and he is threatening to resort to playing 1 up front, away from home.

    Don’t hold your breath.

    TK we are all upset right now, so stay cool huh? Other bloggers may upset you BUT may I suggest, with not half as much cause as watching the style of football Newcastle played yesterday.

  • adaaaam

    Oct 28, 2007 at 1:38 PM

    Comment #20

    anybody talkin about big sam doin a bad job is just bein stupid man, he s completely overhauled all the shitness that s been there the last few years and done exactly whats been needed for not just the team but the football club as a whole since we got him, the whole organisation seems healthier than i ever remember seein it.
    if the delivery for the last goal had been slightly different or something as little as that had gone our way then the game would havenfinished 1-1 and we would have, on the whole, played exactly the same and got away with a point, then we all would have been talkin about is how great teams can play badly but still come away with points. yes BS did seem to make a couple of questionable selections but he has done a lot more things right so far. any supposed toon fan who is even thinkin about gettin on his back this early is a f**kin idiot. lets have a bit of loyalty and support out of you lads.

    ps. arent we still supposed to be gettin edmilson as well in january? i reckon we could do with another out and out wide man as well but i suppose we should have duffer back by then.

  • ToonKing

    Oct 28, 2007 at 12:55 PM

    Comment #21

    I’m seriously thinking of never ever returning to your excellent blog Ed.

    I consider myself a real Toon supporter and every morning i wake, up i get out of my Newcastle bed linen , i turn on my laptop…..birds are singing …sun is shining….i’m happy….my Windows welcomes me with the NUFC 2007/2008 squad wallpaper…..i’m smiling …..i turn on Winamp and listen to Local Hero…..i access NUFC Blog as i do every morning……..and then i have to read comments from daft c*&(ts like indian toon, wsq and the likes who seem to know nothing about football and NUFC and all they do is whine and moan in their every comment and make me angry and ruin my whole start to the day…………..f*(&k off u mugs and go be a Man Who glory hunter you muppets, and let the real supporters support the team.

    Over and out.

  • Bill f

    Oct 28, 2007 at 2:01 PM

    Comment #22

    Copied and pasted this from previous blog, it’s a big event for me. was dissapointed to only get one response, which I really appreciated.

    Saw the lowlights on Beeb, shouted at wife went to bed, still always next game.

    If we didn’t have downs we wouldn’t appreciate ups.

    She’s actually quite understanding, must be as we celebrate our Ruby Wedding aniversary tommorrow. (Sunday). Life isn’t just football lads. (No Really)

    Don’t think theres much to add

  • Todd B

    Oct 28, 2007 at 2:13 PM

    Comment #23

    I think that people like ToonKing and some others here need to realize we can be critical of a performance, and still be “true supporters”. Good teams get angry over a poor game, and their fans have every right to as well.

    I was worried before the match when Sam was talking of a clean sheet instead of simply winning. I don’t agree with some of his tactics in this match. However, I still support him and every player on the team. I only want them to play to their potential, b/c I think they should always have a chance to win. Enough said.

  • nashvillegeordie

    Oct 28, 2007 at 3:42 PM

    Comment #24

    People need to settle down just a bit. We have had a bad game, and people are trashing the team they love and a manager that has so obviously improved our club.

    I do agree that we need to be more offensively-minded. We have a great winger in Zog. He needs to play for us to be effective. I am absolutely sure young James Milner will start contributing more assists and goals. He provides width and makes excellent corner-producing runs.

    I think Oba and Owens can be an effective partnership if we have attacking midfielders. They will need to be as Viduka seems to pick up knocks, unfortunately. Does anyone else feel that we can be effective with “just” these two and not a big man?

    For what it is worth, please stop talking about our being in the top four. This is ridiculous. If Sam continues to improve 0ur club, and the owners continue to support him financially, who knows…but not this season.


  • Dirk

    Oct 28, 2007 at 4:13 PM

    Comment #25

    what did i say at the start! geremi should not be in the side and he just pushes players out who should be starting, milner and zog on the wings butt and emre in the middle, its too early for barton he was crap and showed a lack of match experience and fitness, and again i was rite given should not be in goals because he is no.1 harper should be starting and should not have been dropped he was on fire and will probably not play aswell now as his confidence must have been shattered for being dropped after those performances he made.


    Oct 28, 2007 at 4:42 PM

    Comment #26

    Yesterday was my birthday and I really looked forward to a win. But, I was really dissapointed, as was the previous two defeats. I believe in Michael(Smith) and Oba(Viduka) up front always, they will gel soon. The midfield should be Zog(Duff) , Emre(Geremi) , Barton(Butt) and Milner(Troisi) . Defense Beye(Geremi), Roz(Faye), Capaca(Taylor), Enrique(Baba). I’m not sure if Shay is up to the task lately, there hasn’t been any spectacular performances this campaign by him, but Harper’s done very well when he played early in this term, and we were not loosing games( superstition). NUFC is still a very small squad and needs to be enhanced with at least two more strong defenders(preferably French or Eastern European as they seem to adapt well to the EPL), two creative and strong midfielders( possibly of Brasilian pedigree) and at least one young but good striker( proven to be a goal scorer) at any of Europe’s top leagues. I also believe in Big Sam, but he does have to start playing attacking football, if we are to be considered a good team.

  • Eve

    Oct 28, 2007 at 6:39 PM

    Comment #27

    Dirk ..I don’t know, Harper was playing ok but that was it, Given’s done well though since he’s come back, neither of the goals were Given’s fault. The defense latley has gone in to a funk of sorts kinda like they all no that they’ll be playing so they’re just sitting back or playing like headless chickens.
    If Sam can make the defense in front of Given, not so much solid but em familar with eachother and Given then I think that would solve half the problem. If we put in Harper that would just have and even more negative affect. He’s indesicive, slower, not as good as a keeper overall.

  • Reb

    Oct 28, 2007 at 7:19 PM

    Comment #28

    The “love affair” with Michael Owen comes from watching years of football. He’s more consistent than Martins, his positioning is better, his finishing is better and he even plays better “link play” than his supposedly great partner. Michael Owen belongs in a top team, Martins belongs in a mid-table team. If Newcastle want to stay mid-table, continue to live up Obafemi Martins’ ass. If Newcastle want to achieve, they need to learn to live with the attention and the paper mess that goes with players of Owen’s quality.

    All the professional writers are rating Owen above Martins yesterday, and I agree. I think Owen deserved to stay on. I can’t disagree with Allardyce’s decisions there. Owen played better than Martins yesterday. Over the course of the season, Owen will play better in a lot more matches than viceversa, that’s his quality showing through. I know it’s been awhile since Newcastle had a really top player on their outfield squad (sorry, I can’t use that to describe Shearer his last season) but even the very best can’t work with nothing — and that’s what come from the midfield yesterday. Ameobi would have looked the same! There was just so little for the forwards to do.

  • carl

    Oct 28, 2007 at 8:07 PM

    Comment #29

    toonking its YOU who seems to be the wanker.real supporter? mate i was born within a mile of st james, and live football.go support man u. f*&^k off you twat

  • ChrisL

    Oct 28, 2007 at 8:21 PM

    Comment #30

    Sam got it wrong, he’s not the 1st manager to do that & it won’t be the last time he gets it wrong either.
    Yes it’s 3 points dropped, but hopefully it’s 3 points invested in the realisation that 2 from 3 of N’Zog / Milner / Duff should always be on the pitch.

  • Doctapaul

    Oct 29, 2007 at 11:35 AM

    Comment #31

    Too add to Chrisl’s comments.

    I don’t think it is in the (call it) fabric/spirit/nature of Newcastle to play the way Sam wants us to play away from home. Dalglish (our worst manager post Keegan era?) tried to do it and look what happened to him. I can remember one match, Arsenal away I think, Dalglish played Barton and Hamilton in midfield. I still cringe.

    Thing is, Sam has a formula that worked at Bolton. AND he has a reputation for learning fast. Methinks he will need to otherwise we shall lose at Sunderland. You heard it hear first (I have just put my WWII helmet on before the grenades start hurling my way.).

    There’s some inter-blogger f’in and blindin going on. Let’s stay cool huh? If Newcastle had won (IF) we’d all be happy as Larry.

  • Will

    Oct 29, 2007 at 11:48 PM

    Comment #32

    That’s the thing of it, one sweet through ball from Emre or a bit of skill from Barton and it’d all be rosy. It has been a pretty thin line in all of the games this season I’ve never felt comfortable even 2 up and nothing has been pretty for 20 let alone 90 minutes. But if we can keep sneaking those 3 points I think we can make intertoto or scrape uefa which would be phat 🙂

  • Doctapaul

    Oct 30, 2007 at 8:48 AM

    Comment #33

    yeh Will, it is soooo frustrating to see such a talented squad underperform repeatedly, away from home.. Derby, Man City, Reading.

    At the mo, away from home, we are playing relegation level football. We have the talent – no doubt. We’ll grab enough home points to be safe easily.

    And as for the home games? Well every match we allow the opposition 2-3 easy chances. When we play teams that are struggling – they miss. When we play Liverarsemanuchelskinalpool – we’ll see.

    Let’s see where we are by the time we’ve played them all once. Then we’ll have a better idea of the level we are playing at.

    In the meantime, next Saturday, we play one opf our league contemporaries for 5th-6th place. “Top 6”, I hear you say. How very dare we?


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