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Season 2007-08
 Liverpool (h) Premiership


 in association with NUFC.com 

Date: Saturday 24th November 2007, 12.45pm
Live on Sky

Venue:
 St. James' Park


Conditions:
Wretched
 

 
 

 

Newcastle

Liverpool

0 - 3

Teams

Goals

28 mins Torres was fouled by Emre, leaving Lucas to tee up Gerrard for a precise and fierce dead ball strike despite the attentions of two defenders trying to close him down. Given dived in the Gallowgate goal with the ball already flying past him. 0-1

Half time: Newcastle 0 Liverpool 1

46 mins Kuyt
knew very little about the touch on his shins that saw Gerrard's left wing corner diverted into the Leazes goal - the flag kick having been helped on by Hyypia into our six yard box. 0-2

66 mins Gerrard pointed where he wanted the ball to be played, ran into the right hand side of the United area and played it back in to where the onrushing Babel connected first-time with a satisfying thwack to bulge Given's net once more. 0-3

Full time: Newcastle 0 Liverpool 3

We Said

Chris Mort quotes, SkySportsNews, Sunday:

"It is certainly not surprising the fans are not happy.

"We have had two disappointing home games on the trot the fans don't want that, the manager doesn't want that and we certainly don't want that.

"No complaints they are disappointed with the results and we are to, but we must move on."

"We would like to [stand by him].

"We have got an experienced manager who is clearly having a tough time but he is an experienced guy and will hopefully bring the team through."

Chris Mort quotes, Shields Gazette, Monday:

"Sam is a very experienced manager, and I am sure he will work hard to get his best team, and how they can work together in the best way. Hopefully we'll see that come together in the weeks to come. 

"It certainly does not surprise me to have supporters voicing concern.

"You pay decent money to watch a Premier League game these days, and if someone has paid their money to watch a game, then they're entitled to voice their concern if it's not going right.

"It was a disappointing display and a disappointing result. But we need to get the team together and move on.

"All games in the Premier League are clearly going to be tough games. It's the biggest league in the world, and the next two games are going to be particularly tough.

"We have to gather the troops together, move on and go into Blackburn away and do the best we can."

Mort has also been quoted publicly in response to questions asking if Allardyce maintained owner Mike Ashley's support - his reply being, "Yes, absolutely".

Sam Allardyce quotes, SkySportsNews, Sunday:

"It can't be done in a short period of time.

"They have been trying to do that for a number of years and it has not worked, so we are trying to do it slowly and surely and progressively and will hope we get there and sustain it, that is what I want us to do.

"We have got to do better and hopefully that will turn around in the next few weeks."

Sam Allardyce quotes, The Journal, Monday:

"People are coming up with disruptive rumours as always - Chinese whispers, if you like - and that's bound to be the case in a situation like this. But we've just come together. I never said to them that it would be easy, and they'll never have thought it would be. We've got to remain realistic. The staff and the players are realistic.

"The reaction doesn't surprise me - it has happened before to other managers. The supporters want so much and they want it so soon. Sometimes it's hard to give it to them.

"It isn't nice, you don't like it, no one does. But it's a fact of life here. I've come here to live with that pressure. I could have stayed where I was, been comfortable and picked up the wages at Bolton, but I didn't want to do that. I wanted a bigger challenge and this is one. 

"I'm good enough and big enough for it. We've just got to dig in, keep going and move forward. Things were going fine up until the Tottenham game
(see bottom of this piece)* - but it has gone off the rails a little bit. We'll get it back on the rails.

"I want to get up on a Sunday and feel reasonably good about myself, I don't want to get up on a Sunday and feel dejected and upset and worried, but that's what happens when you don't get results. You are not popular when you are not doing well. If people don't like me, it's up to them - you've got to take it on the chin.

"I've got to keep the players’ spirits up and not let them lose their confidence. What has happened will drain the confidence, but if you lose that it becomes difficult. I've got to keep the pressure off them and take the brunt of the criticism. I've got to help the players remain focused and prepare for the next game. But we've hit rock bottom and we've got to dig ourselves out." 

Sam Allardyce quotes, Chronicle, Monday:

"I always feel hurt when I lose a football match. At the end of the day, I am hurting more than anybody else when we lose a match, even though other people do not think I am.

"I have not experienced it to this extent (at other clubs), but that is why I have come here.

"I have to take the good with the bad, try and get this club to go forward and realise some of the success they have been chasing for 40 or 50 years.

"You have to take the rough with the smooth, and it is pretty rough at the minute. You just have to ride it out.

"A manager losing like that is always under pressure, whether you are here, there or anywhere in the Premier League.

"Results are the biggest and most important thing for any manager.

"The pressure mounts as always and the speculation starts as always, but you have to keep the belief and stop listening to Chinese whispers.

"It is not a harder job than I expected – I never expected it to be easy.

"I told you I could not wave a magic wand, but I did not expect us to be so low because of the performance we put on against Liverpool.

"That, on the back of the Portsmouth result, is one of the most disappointing things for me this year.

"That was not good, was something we all accept responsibility for and, irrespective of the injury problems we have had, we should not end up giving a performance like that."

Sam Allardyce:

"Newcastle United fans have every right to criticise the team - and it's only to be expected after poor displays like that against Liverpool.

"It's only what you expect and they are well within their rights to show their disapproval. I wouldn't expect anything else.

"They've paid their money to come and see a game of football and they have no alternative but to show their disapproval.

"It changes on results, though. Two games ago it was great, and two games later it's a disaster. But I see it as a blip which we have to put right.

"They are showing their disapproval, and it's the same here as anywhere else. They pay their money and if they don't see value for money they show their disapproval.

"I have never quite found myself in this predicament before. But I have dealt with some difficult situations, and this one is a good challenge.

"You roll your sleeves up and get on with the job, you get it right - and hopefully that starts at Blackburn Rovers next week.


"We couldn't leave a back four like that exposed today, but in the end that happened. We went chasing the game and left so many gaps for Liverpool to exploit."

(BBC viewers of course have their own choice of programme; where Nigel Pearson said nothing worth noting. Again.)

The Sunday papers got a different version:

"We've hit rock bottom and I wasn't expecting that. I had to point out a few things to the players and sometimes right after the game is the best time to do that, when everyone is still emotional. We had a good win against Spurs here last month and everyone was happy then, but a bit of a bad run has escalated into a predicament, with only one point from four games since.

"I knew this was going to be difficult today, but most disappointing from our point of view was the way our heads dropped after the second goal. We've got to dig ourselves out of this, show it's just a blip rather than a disaster, but that won't be easy when our next two games are against Blackburn and Arsenal.

"That's only what you expect here - Newcastle have lots of passionate supporters and they are quite within their rights to express disapproval if they have not enjoyed what they have seen. They paid their money and we did not do the job we are expected to do."

Alan Shearer, speaking on Match of the Day:

"It's a worrying time.

"They didn't have a shot on target today and for that to happen at St.James' Park  is incredible. Defensively so poor and offensively - they just were non-existent.

"....it could have and should have been seven or eight.

"It's been happening for the last six or seven weeks at Newcastle, they can't defend balls into the box...if you're given someone to mark from a corner and they get away from you, it's your responsibility.

I know they've got injuries - three centre halves are missing
(it's actually four - Faye, Cacapa, Taylor, Ramage) but the basics still remain the same and they're not doing it.

"Yeah, I think we are worried, without a doubt. 

"It's one point from twelve I think and that was at Sunderland a couple of weeks ago and that wasn't a great performance. 

"They've got a tough game at Blackburn away and Arsenal at home after that, so it is worrying times.

And let's just remind ourselves of Chairman Chris Mort's comments after the mackem draw:

"It was obviously another disappointing performance for all but 10 or 15 minutes in the second half. Fortunately, James Milner's goal saved us from what would have been a miserable international break.

"With the next three games being against Liverpool, Blackburn and Arsenal we're about to have some stern tests of how much progress has been made. I'm sure Sam and his coaching staff will be working very hard to have the team firing on all cylinders for those games."

Final word to Shay Given:

"I have been here 10 years, but for some of the new players that was a lesson about the expectation levels here. That performance was right down there with the worst of them."


*
For Allardyce to advance that theory
is to only look at part of the picture. Having stripped ourselves of the new era/patience angle we were clinging to, here's a negative summary of all 13 Premiership games this season from our NUFC.com waffle (bold letters refer to win, draw, loss):

W Bolton: "we rode the tide of good fortune", opponents in disarray, manager left soon after.
D Villa - "disorganised, lacking in pace and devoid of ideas." Pre-transfer window defence.
D Smogs "inability to protect our leads". Pre-transfer window defence.
W Wigan - ten man opposition uninspiring, manager left soon after.
L Derby - unable to fashion a response in the hour after we went behind. 
W West Ham - Bellamy missing for visitors, Viduka given some sort of service, scores.
L Man City - conceded within minutes of the restart, fell apart.
W Everton - Viduka given some sort of service, scores.
W Tottenham - an outbreak of football from us, opponents in disarray, manager left soon after. 
L Reading - never looked like scoring, unable to capitalise on opponents scoring for us.
L Portsmouth - never looked like scoring, unable to capitalise on opponents scoring for us.
D Mackems - never looked like scoring, scraped unconvincing point with a fortunate goal.
L Liverpool - never looked like scoring, conceded straight after restart, had already fallen apart.


They Said

The fat Spanish waiter proclaimed: 

"I must be pleased to win by three away - it could be more but I'm very pleased.

"It’s important for us to stay at the top of the table so we are in a good position.

"I think that today we played really well. The players played with a lot of confidence, passing the ball, moving the ball and creating chances.

"We also came away with a clean sheet, so from the beginning of the game you could see the confidence of the players and the mentality was really good."

Of Gerrard: 

"He played really well. He has a good attitude and a strong character with a passion for his club, which is important in football."

In his pre-match press conference, Benitez had repeated the phrase: "I am only focused on training and coaching my team" in response to virtually every question asked of him - a reference to his ongoing feud with the club's American owners.

They are reputed to have reminded him of the extent of his responsibilities using that terminology when Benitez sought assurances regarding the availability of transfer funds next January and the need to put deals in place now with agents ahead of the next opening of the transfer window.

Stats


Full record against the Reds:
 
  P W D L F A
SJP 73 29 23 21 107 85
Anfield 72 11 14 47 76 163
League 145 40 37 68 183 248
SJP(FA) 4 4 0 0 6 1
Anf/W 5 0 1 4 3 13
SJP(LC) 1 0 0 1 0 2
Anf 1 1 0 0 1 0
Cup 11 5 1 5 10 16
Tot 156 45 38 73 193 264

Our 156th game against Liverpool makes them one of our most frequent opponents in league and cup, with Arsenal (160) and Manchester City (158) lying ahead.

Neighbours Everton follow on 153, then Aston Villa (146), Manchester United (144), Chelsea (141), Spurs (138), mackems (138) and Blackburn (131) make up the top ten.

NUFC  vs Liverpool @ SJP  - Premiership Years

2007/08: Lost 0-3
2006/07:
Won 2-1 Martins, Solano (pen)
2005/06: Lost 1-3 Ameobi
2004/05:
Won 1-0 Robert
2003/04:
Drew 1-1 Shearer (pen) 
2002/03: Won 1-0 Robert
2001/02: Lost 0-2
2000/01: Won 2-1 Solano, Dyer
1999/00: Drew 2-2 Shearer, Ferguson
1998/99: Lost 1-4 Guivarc'h
1997/98: Lost 0-2 (LC)
1997/98: Lost 1-2 Watson
1996/97: Drew 1-1 Shearer
1995/96: Won 2-1 Ferdinand, Watson
1994/95: Drew 1-1 Lee
1993/94: Won 3-0 Cole 3

By our reckoning, we last suffered two successive three-goal home defeats back in Oct 1930.

It was more than 77 years ago when Derby County came to Gallowgate and spanked us 5-2 a fortnight after Liverpool had won 4-0 at St.James'.

The club's first manager, Andy Cunningham, had just taken over a dispirited United side that had fallen apart after winning the league title in 1927.

He rebuilt the team and took us to FA Cup glory two years later in 1932, beating Arsenal at Wembley, but then relegation followed under his stewardship in 1934.

Graeme Souness was the last Newcastle manager to suffer two successive three-goal defeats away from Tyneside, when our UEFA Cup 4-1 demise in Lisbon was swiftly followed by the FA Cup semi-final defeat by Manchester United in Cardiff by the same scoreline.
 
 

Waffle

After the local spat that was the Tyne-where derby, we returned to normal domestic duties - although the shadow of England was cast across both the pitch and Directors Box here at SJP.

The unavailability of Taylor and Owen due to their international misadventures may have caused Sam Allardyce some annoyance and reduced his selection options - although we weren't alone in regretting that Smith hadn't also crocked himself in Vienna....

However, we were to be on the receiving end of one large piece of fallout from that Croatia debacle - and we don't mean the fact that Macca wasn't freeloading here yet again.

Ashley may reflect that having been prevented from buying the whole away section a half time pint at the stadium of plight is the only positive piece of financial news to come his way of late.

Estimates of the loss to the economy caused by England's Euro 2008 failure vary, but are comfortably in the billions, of which some had been destined to be spent on football shirts and associated patriotic tat in one of Ashley's Sports Direct emporia.

None of this will have improved the owner's mood as he took his seat to witness what some claim to be the worst 45 minutes they can recall watching on this ground - memories of the glories of Bobby Shinton preclude us from agreeing however; we'll just settle for worst in the Premiership.

The inevitability of Gerrard receiving pantomime boos from home fans was as high as his wanting to put in a good performance and vent his midweek frustrations on a piece of opposition goal net.  

He already looked like a man on a mission without any stoking from wor lot, but many were happy to wind him up anyway - what a shame they couldn't direct their vocal energies into something more traditional, like offering encouragement to their own side. God knows they needed it.

Since when did the national team matter so much up here? Are people really that gutted that they're missing out on a trip to the land of cuckoo clocks and six quid pints of fizzy, or the chance to fester on their own sofas soaking up Motty's painful Rio Ferdinand / Archduke Ferdinand quippery?  

This then reached new heights of ridiculousness when the arriving Peter Crouch was afforded a better reception from home fans than Newcastle substitute Stephen Carr, who inexplicably found something to laugh about in the midst of all this Magpie misery.

Now we're no lovers of the defender (and had our high hopes recently dashed when misreading a Skysports "breaking news" strap line about his international retirement) but we still harbour some notion of positivity towards that black and white shirt he was wearing, rather than a lanky streak of **** who has scored against us for Villa, Southampton and Liverpool in past times.   

In fairness by that point in the game we were firmly into "It's A Knockout" territory, Allardyce having set the tone with his formation and subsequent random replacements. Many people thought he was taking the proverbial, so amused themselves in the same manner. 

At 0-3, the atmosphere amongst those who remained was akin to the Crystal Palace game a couple of seasons ago - but without the paper darts....or the clean sheet.

The only vocals from the home crowd were of the sarcastic sort (directed towards team and manager) or supportive (directed towards the away fans when they threw in one of their own anti-Allardyce ditties.)

That was a development from the previous Pompey rimming, but Pamarot's fizzer past Harper and Gerrard's cannon past Given from roughly the same spot had the same negative effect on the side - a tepid surrender.

There may have been seven changes from the starting lineup against Pompey (
Harper, Taylor, Faye, Cacapa, Barton, Milner and Owen all absent today) but the lack of a response once behind remained - as did the feeling of supporter disgust at our helplessness.

Yes there were injuries and selection issues, but aside from one wide Smith effort in the dying moments, we failed completely to create anything constructive.

Once again we were a beaten team once we went behind: the price of a policy of damage limitation and not sending a team out to earn a win, rather hoping they might nick one - somehow.

The 3-5-2 system adopted seemed to cause confusion across the field - notably in the case of Geremi, who was unable to comprehend what was required, or unable to meet the challenge.

That unbalanced the whole thing as he played a vaguely right back role while N'Zogbia on the other side abandoned any pretence at covering but failed to push forward sufficiently to be an outlet.

As a result the sight of  Butt vainly looking to his right for someone on the overlap was repeated more than once - while our midfield five left holes between themselves and the rearguard that surely weren't in Sam's plans.

And up front, a fleet-footed striker who needs chances was trying to pluck the ball out of the sky with a posse of defenders round him, while his forward companion seemed almost incapable of movement - where once was Andy Cole is now....a bag of coal. 

Having said that, neither had any service worth speaking of - no scraps for Oba, no crosses for Viduka until it was far too late - by which time he was so puggled he couldn't stay onside. Had Owen played it's doubtful it would have made one iota of difference.

Of course we've been here before when the Reds come to Tyneside, with as many bad days as good on Tyneside over the years.

In terms of our snail-like rearguard and under-performing midfield, the defeat here in 1998 comes to mind only too easily, when a cheeky hand-rubbing monkey called Michael grabbed three as we trailed 1-4 at half time.

(Opinion still varies about who opted to go with 3-5-2 for that one: new boss Gullit, caretakerish boss Tommy Craig or a senior player from Gosforth....)

Whoever suggested it though, messrs Albert, Charvet and Pearce were run ragged, while Serrant and Watson were equally inept on the flanks.

However, unlike this 2007 stuffing, we did manage a shot on goal (Guivarc'h netting via a post) and as the Press Association report of the time testifies, found some strength and guts after the break: 

The second half saw the Dutchman switching the side to 4-4-2....The response from Newcastle was commendable, the fight and spirit was there.

No chance of anyone writing that today, as we sauntered out after half time as if we'd just enjoyed an early lunch after enforcing the follow on.

As we said in the Pompey report, the unacceptable element isn't conceding goals but in not reacting positively to going behind, both in stemming the flow and mounting a fightback. On that basis it's impossible to explain the Newcastle substitutions today.

Blame the manager for the formation, the tactics and the motivation, but the lack of basic professionalism and fight from the players can only be explained by the fact that they don't subscribe to his footballing doctrine - or haven't got a clue what he's asking them to do. 

Allardyce is fighting against recent history and the mindset of part of the crowd, who harboured suspicions about him based on Reebok experiences - and aren't even seeing their low expectations met at this point in time.

Muddled tactics, substitutions and performances belie jibes that his sides are models of austere efficiency and give the fans the worst of both worlds: nowt to admire at either end of the park.

Were there to be a semblance of something positive to be taken from recent displays we could endure losing this game and more - that's the sort of cobblers we told ourselves when Ardiles thought that diamonds were forever and young guns could go for it.

He failed, but we could see what he was trying to do. Not so this time. 

No hint of advancement or development, no green shoots, no hope. 

Nothing to cheer or support - save for the club itself. 


Something has to come from the pitch to give hope, belief and inspiration to the long-suffering fans - the days of the crowd inspiring the team are at least temporarily over so it seems.

Also apparently extinct are those times
when we sang for our own amusement regardless of onfield fortunes. This is now strictly Roy Walker - "say what you see."

But for every slack-jawed 606 wailer and text message ranter, there remain quieter but no less dismayed supporters, making rational judgments based on the evidence of their own eyes.

People who don't think we have a god-given right to win every game and who don't spit the dummy out or slope off back to the pub if things go against them.

When those people are rubbing their eyes in disbelief and contemplating other pastimes, the bells are really ringing for the invasion. That time appears to be drawing in as quickly as the dark nights.

So after thirteen games is it ludicrous to suggest kicking the manager out? 

We're now in the land of laptops where scouts are accompanied by statisticians on their missions, so here's some numbers to crunch:

Roeder's final 13 Premiership games in charge of NUFC =  conceded 14
Souness' final 13 Premiership games in charge of NUFC = conceded 18

Allardyce's first 13 Premiership games in charge of NUFC = conceded 21

Roeder's first 13 Premiership games in charge of NUFC = conceded 14
Souness' first 13 Premiership games in charge of NUFC = conceded 26

So our defence was better - or at least no worse - under the previous two managers than it is now, when their fate was the sack. And on the other side of the spreadsheet, Souness kept his job despite having a more porous defence than we do currently.  

We ourselves have said recently that this increased impatience is a new thing, but a look in our own back pages reveals that not to be quite true - the following is from the Liverpool (a) report of December 2004, Premiership game 13 for Souness: 

Precisely why we bother at all is a moot point - after all, the players don't look particularly bothered......as someone said leaving the ground today; if Newcastle offered a full refund on season tickets now, how many people would take it up? A staggering number, one suspects.

At best this is another lost season - at worst, it could yet end in something unimaginable. How willing people will be in four months to stump up their hard-earned for another campaign remains to be seen.....

Something needs to collectively shake us up from our slumbers.... w
hether Souness can accomplish the feat of stirring players and fans remains to be seen. 
Defeat at Blackburn is unthinkable, but all too likely. 

If Allardyce is to be given the time he wishes and requires to do the job he was brought here for, then there has to be some immediate sign of progression, some immediate payback to mute the malcontents and reward those not leaping on the anti-Sam bandwagon.

Our signoff line after the defeat at Derby was to: "try and remain in positive mode - not giving underachievers & shirkers an easy ride, but acknowledging effort and providing encouragement."

That should apply to the manager as much as the fans - and if it's not
forthcoming from the former, it's the job of the chairman and owner to decide who is at fault and act accordingly.

A man who built his managerial career
begging in the pubs of Limerick or existing on shoestring budgets at Blackpool and Notts County needs to urgently rediscover some of his organisation and motivational abilities, if he's not to find events spiralling out of control between now and Christmas.

Pre-match, Allardyce made no secret of the fact he and the Liverpool boss don't get on - but his team hardly came out of the blocks as if they were intent on fighting his corner. That speaks volumes.

Never mind formations, ice baths or Prozone coefficients, if the manager can't instill fight or guts (that all-inclusive term "passion") into his team at Ewood or when the Gunners come here, then he's wasting his time here - and ours. 

Not winning is bad enough - playing like a bunch of losers is utterly unacceptable.
 
Biffa

Reports

Page last updated 09 October, 2007