Tumbling Allardyce

Newcastle’s failure to play a more attractive style of football under Sam Allardyce was a big factor in the manager’s departure.

The style of football Sam Allardyce employed at Newcastle was a big factor in his departure from the club. Particularly since the Kevin Keegan days, Toon fans have always loved to see the team play an attractive, attacking type of game. They weren’t losing too many matches under Sam, but when you’re using defensive tactics and the supporters aren’t happy, it’s going to cause you problems in the long run.

In addition, a lot of the signings Sam made during the summer backfired on him. To be frank, defensive players like Enrique, Beye and Cacapa have failed miserably, and the team haven’t looked like they can get goals either. I also think there’s been a bit of unhappiness in the camp; I’m pretty sure that both Shay Given and Michael Owen were on the transfer list.

Of course, Sam was appointed by the previous chairman, Freddy Shepherd, as opposed to Mike Ashley. Ashley is a guy who’s a supporter, he sits in the stands with the fans, and if he’s picking up on any discontent, he’s going to do something about it.

He also has to be careful because if they have a mediocre season Newcastle could lose 10-15,000 season ticket sales. Ashley obviously has big ambitions for the club and the fans expect success – and I don’t think Big Sam was too suprised when he was fired or, to use the preferred euphamism, “left by mutual consent”!

Sam has been linked with the Ireland job, but I don’t think that’s a real possibility. It would probably be perceived by some people as a return to the Jack Charlton style of football, but I don’t think Sam would want it, and I think there are better candidates out there.

Some people have suggested that the search for a new Ireland manager is taking too long, but I don’t think it is. There’s no rush. If the new manager’s appointed before the Brazil game, that would be perfect. I think it’ll happen before the end of January. We need to appoint someone who will lead us through not one campaign, but two. Personally, I think Terry Venables is at the right stage of his career and would be a great choice.

Speaking of Irish managers, it was interesting to read about Clive Clarke’s recent criticisms of Roy Keane, saying that he’s been throwing tantrums and not communicating properly with the players. Sometimes it’s easy to point fingers when you’re on the outside.

Look at where Sunderland were, and look at where they are now. There’s a huge difference. The club was in a dire situation, and Roy came in with a lot enthusiasm, drew huge crowds and got them promoted. One element that has to be taken into account is that it’s very difficult for a new manager to get players to come to the north east. Roy knows that, so he’s tried to buy players that he knows he can trust, either from Ireland or from his Man Utd days.

He’s gradually trying to make the change happen at the Stadium of Light. Personally, I think Roy’s actually over-achieved with that squad. I don’t think they’re good enough to make a serious impact on the Premiership. A lot will depend on how Roy fares in the January transfer window.

Finally, there’s more managerial intrigue with the news that Jurgen Klinsmann was offered Rafael Benitez’s job before he joined Bayern Munich. In some strange way, Benitez seems to be the next man out, which I find quite amazing. It’s incredible the way in which football has developed. Despite having won the Champions League, FA Cup and European Super Cup, the job doesn’t really seem worthwhile for Rafael at the moment.

It’s how he does from now until the end of the season that’ll really determine whether he stays or goes. There’s no doubt that Benitez would walk into another big job in the morning, and I think it would be a mistake for Liverpool to let him go. Who’s really out there who could replace him?

It’s remarkable that the top clubs are prepared to let go of managers such as Benitez and Jose Mourinho. It just shows you that expectations have gone crazy. And it’s not just at the big clubs, it’s everywhere.

Ultimately, Benitez has made serious progress at Liverpool. He’s been guilty of errors at certain times, but he’s made a major signing in Torres, which has been a massive bonus for him, and put together a very good squad. They’ve slipped up and had a few bad results, but I don’t think there’s too much wrong at Anfield. If anything, it’s the bickering on the sidelines that’s causing the problems.


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