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Allardyce: Why I fight on at Newcastle

By BOB CASS - More by this author »


Last updated at 21:57pm on 29th December 2007



Sam Allardyce, battling to stave off demands for his head from embittered Newcastle supporters, watched his troubled side slump to another defeat yesterday, beaten 2-1 at Stamford Bridge by a Chelsea team anxious for points to recover their place in the Premier League title race.



But anyone expecting the big man to cave in under the pressure of attempting to turn around the decades of failure at St James' Park will be disappointed.


Allardyce is in typical jaw-jutting mood — and he believes he has the support of multi-millionaire owner Mike Ashley to ride out the current crisis.


Ashley knows all too well the strength of feeling among the Newcastle faithful.He regularly takes his seat among the club's hardcore supporters, who have not been shy in voicing their disquiet over the Allardyce regime.


The stirrings of unrest gathered momentum over the Christmas break, the defeat at relegation- threatened Wigan being preceded by a home draw with bottom-placed Derby County.


Now, with the defeat at Chelsea — a setback Allardyce blamed on the officials for not disallowing Salomon Kalou's late winner for offside — Newcastle's return from their three Christmas week fixtures has been a solitary and distinctly unfestive point.


But as he prepared his side for yesterday's clash, Allardyce insisted: "I came to Newcastle because I was convinced I could make the club more successful than it has been in recent years. I still am."


That may be true but there is no denying the pall of gloom that has descended over Tyneside and Allardyce's beleaguered team.


Booed off the pitch by their own supporters after the defeat by Wigan, Newcastle's players have now had to contend with controversy off the field as well.


Allardyce's first signing after his appointment seven months ago was midfielder Joey Barton.


Many in football said he was buying trouble in taking Barton from Manchester City, but Allardyce insisted that he had spent £5.8million on acquiring a player of undoubted skill and high potential.


That belief came home to roost last week.


Yesterday, rather than having any part in Newcastle's visit to London, Barton sat in a cell after being remanded in custody charged with common assault and affray.


Allardyce angrily denies reports that a heated argument he had with Barton may have contributed to the player's mood after the defeat by Wigan, a game which Barton missed after being dropped.


"We had a few words because he was disappointed about being left out when I didn't think he was fit enough to play, but it has been blown up out of all proportion," said Allardyce.


The Newcastle boss says he is convinced that he knows the identity of the dressing-room mole he claimed gave the story about a row to the Press.


"I have no proof but a very good idea who it was," said Allardyce, adding darkly: "I just want him to know that I know."


Allardyce does admit that Barton's arrest has contributed to an atmosphere of negativity that is engulfing St James' Park.


"It does nobody any good," he said. "In this situation we have to be positive. There is no pessimism behind the scenes. The results may not have gone our way but our performances have been better than people give us credit for.


"It was never going to be an overnight job here. It is important that supporters get a clear picture of what the club is capable of in the short term and have the patience to accept that the famine that Newcastle have gone through for years in terms of results will not end in a season.


"There are no instant cures. Success has to be built over a period. I believe I am putting a structure in place which will serve the club well in the years to come.


"We are competing with clubs who are spending more than ever before. We had to do some short-term buying in the summer. Some have worked, others haven't, but there were players at the club who came here for big money but had no residual value when it came to moving them on.


"Their departures did not generate money to spend in the transfer market but our net spending deficit is still only £9m, which is low when you compare it with other clubs.


"Clubs like Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea have benefited from signing young players and developing them through their system and we've started to do the same.


"We want to exploit that kind of market to be able to produce firstteam players of the future. But it has to coincide with an improvement in your current senior players.


"We have some very good players at Newcastle but, for different reasons, principally the absence of the more experienced ones for long periods, we have been unable to make the impact we are capable of."


Allardyce's team have suffered from the absence through injury of the likes of Mark Viduka and Michael Owen, whose appearance from the bench yesterday after almost two months out with a thigh injury was at least some comfort for Newcastle fans starved of the entertaining football they crave.


Allardyce has targeted the players he wants to buy in January's transfer window, but he says he will not be panicked into deals that merely paper over the dressing-room cracks.


"We are looking at players who I believe can improve the side, but for every likely target there are half a dozen clubs prepared to spend big money who are chasing them as well," he added.


"From the top to the bottom of the Premier League, clubs are prepared to spend to try to make their team better. My aim is to get it right long term.


"The planning and structure for that is in place but it will take time and patience and the backing of the supporters to get us there."


Whether Allardyce is given the time he says he needs remains to be seen. The next five weeks hold difficult fixtures against the likes of Manchester United, Manchester City, Arsenal and Aston Villa.


Sandwiched in between will be the visit to St James' Park on January 19 of the club where Allardyce made his name.


How ironic if Bolton Wanderers were to be ultimately responsible for Big Sam's departure.





Who do you think it is


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"We had a few words because he was disappointed about being left out when I didn't think he was fit enough to play, but it has been blown up out of all proportion," said Allardyce.


He did go out after that you know? The police didn't arrest him because he had an argument with Allardyce.

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