Monday, January 14, 2008

Sam Allardyce, A Fond Farewell.

So Sam Allardyce got the sack/mutual consent from NUFC last week. There were lots of people phoning into TalkSport and Radio Five that evening to say that it was too soon and he should have been given more time. There were other people saying that he'd had a few months more than Eriksson had had at Manchester City and look how well he was doing, so he deserved to get the push. There were even a few fools ringing in demanding that Alan Shearer be the new manager, despite him having no managerial qualifications and a cushy life on the Match of the Day sofa.

I will come to who I'd like to be the next manager at the end, but first, I think I should back Mike Ashley's decision to sack Sam.

After our stunning 6-0 loss to Manchester United this weekend (which would have been a loss even if we'd had a manager going into the game) we stand 11th and SIX points behind the team above us in the Premiership table (West Ham United). We are, however, only six points above the relegation zone (the spot currently occupied by S*nderland) and we've lost to pretty much every team between 18th and 12th. After a near Cup exit to the mighty Stoke, I'm only surprised Ashley waited so long.

Allardyce was the last remnant of the Fat Freddie Shepherd regime. His tactics were questionable, his recent purchases mainly awful and his insistence on not talking to the BBC just childish. The people who pay to watch the Toon don't want to see the long ball game, they don't want dour 0-0 draws at home, and they don't want the slightly erratic local kid not even on the bench when you're playing a fat Aussie from Smogville up front.

We like wingers. We like two centre forwards. We like playing it on the ground to feet. We like creative midfielders. We like, in short, attacking football. We understand that sometimes it won't work and we'll get hit on the counter, we don't mind losing if we've played well. We want the players to look like they're trying as hard as they can - like the shirt matters to them as much as it matters to us.

The way we've been playing recently (one win in six, visit to Arsenal to come), there was every chance we'd be moving down the table and not up. And if we were to get relegated.. Hmmm, I was going to write how bad it would be, but you know what, it wouldn't be that bad.

We'd lose some of our big wage earners: but hey, they're shit and don't care about the club, so good riddance to them. We'd lose the corporates at the games: good, see ya, don't let the turnstyle hit your well-upholstered arse on the way out. Some of the fans may even get a much needed dose of reality: we are *not* big enough to win the Premiership or to guarantee European football every season.

Sure we'd end up in the Championship getting fouled off the park by teams that had just come up from League One, but you know what, we'd learn how to fight, and we'd learn how to beat teams we're supposed to beat. We were supposed to beat Derby (P22 7PTS) this season, but lost away and then just about scraped a draw at home (Beye equalising in the 90th minute).

We'd also have something an incoming manager could aim for. Either save us from relegation this season or get us straight back up to the Premiership next season. No "aiming for a European place", not "guaranteeing silverware". Just stop us from getting worse, get us some players who want to play for us and get us playing football as a team again.

So while Mark Hughes (currently joint favourite) could do the job - he's transformed Blackburn on a fairly limited budget - why would he leave a team that he's just got playing the way he wants? Ditto David Moyes, Gordon Strachan and everyone else who has a job. Harry Redknapp, the last name to be linked, no thanks - we don't need another manager involved in the Panorama investigation. Can't see Mourinho, Lippi, Jol or van Gaal wanting it.

Which leaves only one name, Keegan. And I shall post later on why he is the only choice left.

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Blogger jamesh said...

I think I resent your insinuation that League One teams foul you off the park. Some of us attempt to play an attractive passing style of football (skill levels permitting); it is just a pity that we haven't realised the game is a little longer than 89 minutes!

Blogger silas said...

Yeah, I was thinking more about Leeds, Swansea, Carlisle and Millwall. All of whom I notice are actually above you in the table.

You might want to swap the attractive passing game in the 80th minute for a "lump it up the pitch, kick crap out of the opponent" game, you might get a few more points!


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