Happy 13th birthday…13 years to the day since Sam Allardyce took charge of first Newcastle United match
Sam Allardyce is one of the few things we can’t blame Mike Ashley for.
Fat Sam being the leaving present Freddie Shepherd left for the retail supremo.
On 15 May 2007 Sam Allardyce was announced as new Newcastle United manager, then only eight days later John Hall sold his shares to Mike Ashley and effectively sold him the club.
Sam Allardyce has a vivid imagination (see past comments below) where Newcastle United are concerned, claiming only a change of ownership and being starved of transfer funds prevented him being a success at St James Park.
The truth is that Sam Allardyce was the one who almost certainly poisoned Mike Ashley against the idea of ambition at Newcastle United, as back in summer 2007 he gave him a very decent £34m to spend on players and even more so, allowed some pretty serious wage deals. Geremi and Viduka were both on reported £100,000 a week deals after ‘free’ transfer moves, the likes of Smith and Barton given five year £60,000 a week deals, whilst other experienced / older players such as Cacapa, Beye, Rozehnal and Faye were also given significant wage deals. The one big successful exception was Jose Enrique, the only real successful signing long-term.
Exactly 13 years today (11 August 2007), Newcastle played their first game under Sam Allardyce (and Mike Ashley!), going back to his old club Bolton, NUFC quickly raced into a three goal lead (N’Zogbia and Martins (excellent finish for his second)) and won 3-1, what could possibly go wrong?
Today in 2007
Bolton Wanderers 1 Newcastle United 3
Charles N’Zogbia 11’
Obafemi Martins 21’, 26’
— NUFCThreatLevel (@NUFCThreatLevel) August 11, 2020
A kind fixture list helped Newcastle to five wins and two draws in the opening nine PL games but very quickly fans were spotting the warning signs, the football quickly getting ever more negative.
The next 12 PL matches saw only two wins, these were both very fortunate last minute victories, 2-1 at home to Birmingham when Beye scored in the final minute. Then a 1-0 last gasp win at Fulham, Barton scoring a penalty with Newcastle’s first proper shot of the match.
The football was absolutely shocking in the final stages of Allardyce’s stay, culminating in a terrible 0-0 draw at second tier Stoke in the FA Cup third round, Sam Allardyce playing the entire match clinging on for a 0-0 whilst the travelling NUFC fans made their feelings known.
Three days later Mike Ashley sacked Sam Allardyce, then another seven days on, appointed Kevin Keegan only hours before a ten men NUFC side took apart Stoke 4-1 in the replay.
A billionaire owner who had listened to the fans, what more could you want?
Kevin Keegan eventually turned it around, going on a seven game run of four wins and three draws before ending the season with two defeats.
Of course unknown to us all, even when Keegan took the job, Mike Ashley had secretly given the power on transfers to Dennis Wise, thus ensuring KK would be forced out.
Sam Allardye wonders what would have happened if he had been allowed to continue at St James Park. We all know the answer to that one!
However, we do all of course wonder what would have happened if Mike Ashley had backed Kevin Keegan instead of undermining and deceiving him, what might have been?
Sam Allardyce – Tuesday 12 December 2017:
“For the first time in my entire life as a manager I heard an owner (Mike Ashley) say it was a mistake he let me go.
“I don’t hold grudges. Life is too short.”
Sam Allardyce – 2 December 2017:
“Newcastle was going to be the most ambitious club and best financially-backed I was going to manage, way back in 2007, but that didn’t happen…
“When Freddy Shepherd went out and Mike Ashley came in, there wasn’t as much money as I expected.”
Sam Allardyce – July 2017:
“Newcastle United is a massive club and I feel aggrieved that I wasn’t given the opportunity to the job that I wanted to do, that I set out to do.
“But that wasn’t anything to do, with anything other than a dramatic change of ownership, with Mike Ashley taking over. The fastest sale of a football club in history.
“One minute Freddie Shepherd employed me to try and take the club forward…
“We had chatted two or three times previously about the job and it hadn’t quite worked out until then, finally I was happy to go and work at such a big club.
“The aim was to take the club back into European places…but over the space of two weeks the club was taken over by Mike Ashley.
“I was given the opportunity (by Mike Ashley) to take the club forward, but in the end it didn’t work out because they didn’t see me as the man that could do that.
“Mike had his own ideas and they came to the decision that they were going to change managers.
“You have to respect that because I was already there and they were taking on someone who they hadn’t chosen, they decided to change and go with someone they wanted.
“I have to say, the decision was made very quickly and Mike and his team didn’t cause any problems.
“That is always a great relief for any manager if you are going to let them go, whether you think you deserve it or not.
“In all fairness, the year they got relegated (the second time under Ashley in 2015/16) they made the biggest expenditure that they had ever made for a number of years and that still didn’t work.
“Recruitment in football is everything. At any club your recruitment has to be right because ultimately it is the team on the pitch that has to get the results.”
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