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‘It was like trying to build Empire State in a month’

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http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/sport/foo...icle3556074.ece

 

 

Physically, he is as imposing as ever, but a little of the spirit appears to have drained from Sam Allardyce as he sits down in a hotel near Bolton. Hardly surprising when you consider that it was not so long ago that he was dismissed by Newcastle United. The sack would dent anyone’s ego, and even a man as robust as “Big Sam” went through an emotional buffeting.

 

“I was shocked, to be honest, then you go through a period of taking all the phone calls, everyone saying ‘why?’ and ‘I can’t believe it,’ ” he says. “Then that dies down, then you reflect, then you get a bit angry, a bit upset. And then you move on. And that is where I am now.”

 

He claims to have stopped kicking the cat, but losing his job must be all the harder to accept when he sees the chaos that has unfolded at St James’ Park. We will never know if Allardyce could have turned Newcastle into a consistent force, but we can surely agree that he would not have led them into their present pickle perilously close to the relegation zone.

 

He was sacked after 21 league matches with the team in eleventh place. “No one suggested we were going down,” Allardyce says. The least he deserved was the chance to see out a campaign, a proper opportunity to show whether the methods that carried Bolton Wanderers to league finishes of eighth, sixth, eighth and seventh could be transferred to a so-called big club. Instead, questions about his calibre have been left hanging, unsatisfactorily. He talks about coming back better than ever, about a career on the rise at the age of 53, but privately he must ask himself whether a job such as the one at Newcastle will come up again.

 

While he waits for offers, he is sitting in the pundit’s chair for a variety of television networks. Given the chance to commentate on Newcastle’s forthcoming relegation battle, he insists that he will not be rancorous towards the men who sacked him, the supporters who showed such indifference or the players who questioned his methods. “I’ve no real bitterness any more because there’s only me who’ll be losing sleep over it,” he says.

 

The terms of his lucrative payoff prevent him from saying all that he might about his former employers, but he is entitled to vent his frustrations. “If it was 18 months down the line, I would accept my responsibility,” he says. “But when I left, they’d had fewer points in five of the previous ten years. Bobby Robson finished eleventh and eleventh in his first two years before he got them in the Champions League. So I don’t know how much results were a factor.”

 

Was it, then, the failure to produce the beautiful game? Allardyce was accused of betraying a heritage of cavalier football. He snorts, as well he might, given that we are talking about a club without a trophy since 1969 – when they won the old Fairs Cup – not Barcelona or Real Madrid. “I call that a load of waffle,” he says. “Too many people speak about how the Newcastle fans are, but they are not how they are portrayed. They want to win something, they want to win something so badly they will accept you winning something for the sake of it.”

 

He points to the gradual improvement being engineered by Juande Ramos at Tottenham Hotspur, based, in the first instance, on diet and organisation. “Tottenham is a case in point,” Allardyce says. “It is not purists’ football that is being talked about there but getting results and winning. Playing style was never an issue. At Newcastle it was never going to be how it was suggested I played at Bolton.”

 

His plan was 4-3-3, although it was not clear where Alan Smith was going to slot in, whether Mark Viduka would ever be fit enough to lead the line or if Michael Owen could be persuaded to adapt. Progress was fitful. “Newcastle were not good enough, in recent history, to go out and play 4-4-2 every week,” Allardyce says. “And in any case, it is an antiquated system; 4-4-2 has got cobwebs on. We were finding a way of playing, having changed everything behind the scenes. The players were still learning to blend. It was a question of patience. It is like building the Empire State Building in a month. It can’t be done.”

 

Impatience is a criticism that can be aimed at him, too. Allardyce accepts that if he made a mistake on Tyneside, it was in not persuading the players to buy into his approach. Whether they liked him or not is immaterial, he says, which is just as well because a cabal of senior players were set against him from early on. A far more serious charge is that they rejected his methods.

 

Allardyce believes that it was a clash between his rigorously scientific approach, which includes reams of analysis, and the laissez faire attitude that was entrenched at Newcastle. “Perhaps I couldn’t sell that to the players because they’d never been shown it before,” he says. “All that was said [before] was, ‘Go out and play.’ But today’s game is not like that. The level of preparation is so detailed that you can’t just say, ‘Off you go, off the cuff.’ I was challenging them to adapt and maybe that was a problem. I think I gave the players too much too soon.

 

“Too direct? If those players had the ability to look at their ProZone stats instead of me shouting at them, they would have learnt more about their game than they’ve ever done. They would have learnt something about themselves.

 

I don’t know whether any of that played a part in losing my job. If other people listen to the Chinese whispers or the tittle-tattle, no manager would ever get the chance to build or be successful. Maybe I should have gone, ‘Sod year two, sod year three, I’ll just worry about tomorrow.’ But I’m not like that. I try to build something that has sustainability, not a flash in the pan. I don’t want to sound like I’m making excuses, but how can you judge [from seven months]? It is destined to be a great club somewhere down the line, but who can make it that I don’t know. The longer it goes on without that success they think they deserve, the harder it is to achieve it, and they can’t do it by changing managers all the time.”

 

With Kevin Keegan hopelessly out of his depth, Newcastle will probably be on to another manager by the time Allardyce returns to work, which he hopes to do in the summer. He may be forced to drop into the Coca-Cola Championship, while part of him is intrigued by working in Spain. “I’d be fascinated to see if they would appoint an English manager out there,” he says.

 

Moving abroad would help him to dodge the BBC, with which he has refused to engage since the Panorama documentary that alleged that his son, Craig, benefited from nepotism during Allardyce’s days at Bolton. Harry Redknapp recently dropped his boycott of the BBC, but Allardyce is not keen to discuss either the corporation or the Portsmouth manager who might have succeeded him on Tyneside.

 

“Only he [Redknapp] and Newcastle know what the contact was before they decided to get rid of me,” Allardyce says. “It appears that there was, but I don’t know. We haven’t talked about it.” Oh, to be a fly on the wall the next time Harry and Sam talk in private.

 

At one stage, Allardyce might have regarded a successful spell at Newcastle as a stepping stone to the England job. He is convinced that the national team should be led by an Englishman and even argues that Steve McClaren was underpaid by the FA. “Why pay an Englishman only a quarter of what they are paying Fabio Capello?” he says. “It is like saying an Englishman will take less because he’ll be grateful. I don’t want to get destructive about Capello, he has got the track record. I’m just patriotic.”

 

The invasion of foreign players is another topic that he can talk about endlessly and passionately. “The most scary comment I have heard is that Barnsley have 12 foreigners in their squad [it is actually eight],” he says. “Barnsley! If we don’t put it right very shortly, the backlash is going to be catastrophic. We care about sport, we love it, but we don’t spend time developing it. We will fail in the Olympics [authorities are trying to enter a Great Britain team for 2012] miserably.”

 

Allardyce’s recent fate might be said to be a measure of our inadequacies. Like McClaren, he is one of the most successful English managers of recent years. That pair are about as good as we have got. Yet both are out of work and wondering how low they might have to drop to get back into the game.

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http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/sport/foo...icle3556074.ece

 

He claims to have stopped kicking the cat, but losing his job must be all the harder to accept when he sees the chaos that has unfolded at St James’ Park. We will never know if Allardyce could have turned Newcastle into a consistent force, but we can surely agree that he would not have led them into their present pickle perilously close to the relegation zone.

 

So we would have beaten Arsenal away, Man Utd at home, and Liverpool away under Big Sam? I doubt it.

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ehh , he throws spurs in their as an example ? they wouldnt suffer the shite allerdyce calls football either .

and building for the future instead of tommorow ? i didnt see either tbh . he cant talk his was out of going to derby for a draw ect , we all saw what the team did the first few games of the season before they were tainted by allerdyces style .

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Can Keegan talk his way out of losing a point against Blackburn?

 

You mean could he point to a good team performance? Aye against Blackburn he probably could, we played well and had our finishing been better would have won it easily.

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He's actually spot on though.

 

The Keegan apologists won't think so.....

 

I agree, I didn't like the bloke to start with, but the truth hurts

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Kelly Jones once said to me and my mate and about one thousand other people. :D

 

''Always know when to shut the fuck up''

 

Which i suppose is ironic considering Stereophonics are just a bit shit now :puke:

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Can Keegan talk his way out of losing a point against Blackburn?

 

You mean could he point to a good team performance? Aye against Blackburn he probably could, we played well and had our finishing been better would have won it easily.

 

Doesn't really matter though, does it? We lost the game.

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Can Keegan talk his way out of losing a point against Blackburn?

 

You mean could he point to a good team performance? Aye against Blackburn he probably could, we played well and had our finishing been better would have won it easily.

 

Doesn't really matter though, does it? We lost the game.

 

It does to me. We lost the game aye but we looked like we could win it. I'm still convinced we'll stay up and as long as that happens I don't give a fuck about results as long as we're turning in decent performaces. We'll rebui;d and start again next season and then I'll judge Keegan, I realise that may not give you enough time to bitch and moan but please keep doing what you do to get you through the day, we'd miss your insight and witty banter.

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If you deem bitching and moaning about my team hurtling towards relegation, sinking without race as a lack of insight, then fair enough.

 

At the end of the season maybe I will look at the Blackburn game differently because I'll have the benefit of hindsight and say yes, we did play well. But ultimately at the minute it's results that matter and I don't give a shit how we are playing as long as we are putting points on the board.

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At the end of the day I'll take results over performances, as will any of us, but we will stay up this season, I'm 99.9999% sure of that.

 

After that, as I say, we just have to look til next season, judge Keegan on how he does then and make decisions. As far as I'm concerned this is just a waiting exercise until August.

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