Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Goodbye, Sam Allardyce

In a move that should come as no surprise to anyone, Newcastle United and Sam Allardyce have parted ways today by "mutual agreement". The writing was on the wall for Big Sam after his team took just one point from a possible six against bottom-feeders Derby and Wigan over the holiday season and were also held to a scoreless draw in their FA Cup 3rd Round tie last weekend at Championship side Stoke City.

I've been calling for this move for weeks now, as you all well know. All Big Sam did at Bolton was prove he can manage a side to mid-table mediocrity. He didn't have any expectations to answer to when he was with the Trotters and he had a roster that was full of experienced players. Honestly, teams like the ones he had should finish somewhere around 7th or 8th anyway so I don't really believe Allardyce worked magic there like many people believe he did.

As soon as he made the jump up to Newcastle (if you can even consider Newcastle a step up), he showed his true colors. Newcastle are a club with passionate supporters and with all due respect to Bolton, have higher expectations than the Wanderers and Allardyce couldn't answer the bell when he needed to.

Look, you can argue that he deserved more time and a chance to really rebuild his squad, and I can see your point. The Premiership managerial merry-go-round has been on super-speed this year and some of its victims have been less deserving than others. In Allardyce's and Newcastle's case, there's no real difference between 13th in the table and 9th; it's mid-table and it's nothing to brag about. Newcastle would have, and likely still will, finished somewhere in that range this year so why not give him another two transfer windows to improve the squad?

Well, I'll tell you why, Because the players Allardyce signed last summer have turned out to be disasters. Joey Barton could go to jail for an extended period of time, Mark Viduka still hasn't left the pie shop, José Enrique is an average Premiership left back at best, Abdoulaye Diagne-Faye has played in only 11 league games, and Caçapa's transition to the Premiership from Lyon hasn't gone nearly as smoothly as hoped for. Newcastle owner Mike Ashley, a man of the fans, would have been wrong in letting Allardyce spend more of the former's money given the fact that he hadn't shown he can buy wisely.

Rumors are circulating that Steve McLaren could take over but I'm not sure how much I buy into that. His former club, Middlesbrough, are Newcastle's bitter rivals in the North East. McLaren was just fired from the England job in the summer after that whole debacle and I would think he'd want some time away from the game.

Alan Shearer is clearly the people's choice but appointing him would be a step in the wrong direction. He has no managerial experience whatsoever and as Sammy Lee's short tenure at Bolton this year proved, you can't just walk into the Premiership and be successful. Newcastle fans will have a say in who the club's next manager would be because as I said, Mike Ashley is a man of the people and a fan himself, but they need to look past their favoritism and reach out for a more experienced candidate.

Martin Jol is available but I believe he'll want the vacant Dutch national team job after Marco van Basten's contract with Holland ends after Euro 2008 this summer. There's no way Mourinho will take this position; he looks poised to take over at AC Milan or maybe even Barcelona next summer. Marcelo Lippi won't have any interest in Newcastle either; if he even takes another managerial job it'll be with a national team and he is way, way above a club like Newcastle.

No comments: