The game today against Birmingham City is probably more important than the game on Wednesday.
If we had lost the game on Wednesday and played reasonably well, not many fans would have been too disappointed. However, we now have to get down to the business of picking up points against teams who are below us in the league.
Sam Allardyce – wants all 3 points today, but it will not be easy
Such a game is today with Birmingham one place and 5 points below us in the league. Weâ€™d like to increase that to 8 points after todayâ€™s game, and a draw just will not be good enough.
Hereâ€™s what Sam Allardyce has been saying to the Newcastle Journal today:
â€œEmphasizing we need that level of performance (shown versus Arsenal) again is the hardest piece of work we have to do as a management and coaching team,â€ â€œThe huge amount of effort put into the last two games means we have to make sure thereâ€™s no mental and physical fatigue, especially with Birmingham not having had a game in midweek.â€
â€œWe donâ€™t want players going into the Birmingham match with a big lull coming, rather than the impetus from where weâ€™ve left off.â€ â€œBirmingham City got off to a very good start under their new manager,â€ â€œTheyâ€™ll come and show their commitment to him, and that will make life difficult.”
â€œItâ€™ll be a different game entirely because I think theyâ€™ll sit back a little and see what weâ€™ve got to offer. Theyâ€™ll look to frustrate us, and see what they can get from our mistakes or on the break.â€
â€œWeâ€™ve got to be as solid as we were at the back against Arsenal.â€ â€œThatâ€™s one of the things thatâ€™s been missing while results have slipped away from us, particularly in the Blackburn game last weekend.â€
We did look rather strong on Wednesday at the back and a lot of that new solidity was with having Steven Taylor back in the heart of our defense. Heâ€™s looking a better player these days under the tutelage of Big Sam, and had an excellent game against the league leaders. He seemed to fit in well with David Rozehnal at the back. Sam continued:
â€œAs long as we continue in this vein and keep going forward, weâ€™ll be able to turn a good performance into a win. Iâ€™m sure they will all have felt as though theyâ€™ve done a good dayâ€™s work on Wednesday, as they did against Blackburn, but without the disappointment.â€
Newcastle have in fact played well two games running, because we almost pinched an equalizer against Blackburn last Saturday before they caught us short at the back and nicked their third goal. But we missed chances that day, that could have easily brought us a win. We donâ€™t want to make any such mistakes today, in this crucial encounter.
â€œI thought everybody virtually played to their best against Blackburn, it was just we got heavily punished for not finishing them off when we had the opportunity,â€ â€œAgainst Arsenal, we got a performance that was good enough to win against the best team in the Premier League. We didnâ€™t quite make it, though, so weâ€™re a little disappointed.â€
â€œItâ€™s sometimes easier for a player to go out against a top team. You have to worry as a manager and make sure you get your players back there for the visit of Birmingham City.â€ â€œIâ€™ve always said games like the Arsenal game are the bonus games. The more important games are the more winnable ones. The Birmingham match is unquestionably a more winnable game for us, so we have to make sure we win it.â€
â€œWe have to be professional enough to be pro-active and do the job from the start.â€
Sam’s only real selection dilemma is whether to start Mark Viduka, who has been out injured and has still to get back to his best form. But we would expect Sam to start with an unchanged side, but maybe give Mark a decent run out in the second half today, depending how the game goes. Sam went on about Mark:
â€œHe was left out a few times at Middlesbrough,â€ â€œMark Viduka is a terrific player, but his niggly injury scenario has meant while we have tried to get him back as quickly as possible, he maybe hasnâ€™t quite been at the top of his game.â€
â€œHis injury situation is the reason why Iâ€™ve been bringing him off the bench. Now weâ€™ve started turning things around, he can come into play. Heâ€™s a great finisher and will get back into the side on a regular basis, thereâ€™s no doubt about that.â€
So it’s very simple today. We need to win and it’s one of those days when the result is really more important than the way we play. It would be nice to win, play well and keep a clean sheet. But we’ll take the win, whichever way we can get it.