Saturday 24th November 2007, 12.45pm
Live on Sky
Venue: St. James' Park
0 - 3
Torres was fouled by Emre, leaving Lucas to tee up Steven Gerrard for a precise and fierce dead ball strike
despite the attentions of two defenders trying to close him down. Shay Given
dived in the Gallowgate goal with the ball already flying past him. 0-1
Half time: Newcastle 0 Liverpool 1
46 mins Striker Dirk 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 Ryan Babel connected
first-time with a satisfying thwack to bulge Given's net once more.
Full time: Newcastle 0 Liverpool 3
quotes, SkySports News, 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
"We would like to [stand by
Allardyce]. 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
"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,
Sam Allardyce quotes, SkySportsNews, Sunday:
"It can't be done in a short period of time.
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."
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,
"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."
"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
"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
(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:
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.
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
"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
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
W Wigan - ten man opposition uninspiring, manager left soon after.
L Derby - unable to fashion a response in the hour after we went
W West Ham - Bellamy missing for visitors, Viduka given some sort of
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.
The fat Spanish
"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
"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.
156th game against Liverpool makes them one
of our most frequent opponents in league and cup, with Arsenal (160) and Manchester City (158)
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 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
There may have been seven changes from the starting lineup against Pompey (Harper,
Barton, Milner and Owen all absent today) but the lack of a response once behind remained - as did the feeling of
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
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.
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
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.
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."
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
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
now in the land of laptops where scouts are accompanied by
statisticians on their missions, so here's some numbers
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.... whether
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