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The Big Kick-Off: Newcastle United

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Paul Grech


As a young kid, Paul Grech got used to hearing ‘oh no, not him’ when the others found out that he would be playing on their team. He quickly took the hint that he was crap at football. Hopefully, he’s a bit better at writing about it....
[full biography]
09/08/2007 08:30:00.
read: 536 times.

Hopes and Fears


Sam Allardyce is the latest to try his hand at getting Newcastle back among the contenders and, although he won’t manage that in his first season, he seems to have the ability to do so.

At Bolton he managed to get a squad built with little money and free transfers to regular top ten finishes as well as a League Cup final. At Newcastle he will have considerably more money to spend but even so he won’t be able to rely exclusively on this what with other clubs being more financially strong.

There’s also the extent of the rebuilding job that he faces where apart from Shay Given and Obafemi Martins there seems to be no one who is really of the quality required or who has shown to be good enough on a consistent basis. Which is why this summer, Allardyce has had to be clever with his spending, something that he has done very well. Geremi’s versatility will serve the club well and if he can stay fit Cacapa is a fine player. Joey Barton may have had his problems with discipline but Allardyce is the manager who managed to calm down (well, almost) El Hadj Diouf so he’ll know how to handle him.

Yet, even though the first eleven have been considerably strengthened, the squad doesn’t look strong enough to challenge for a top five finish. Things should be better this year – they may even end their long wait for a trophy – but nowhere as good enough as Allardcye will want them to be.

Key Transfer


Given the state of Newcastle’s defence, tightening things up at the back was always going to be Allardyce’s primary concern. Finding suitable players, however, hasn’t been at all easy. David Rozenhal comes highly rated from Paris St. Germain and he will need to be up to expectations if Newcastle are to avoid the problems of recent years.

Something to Prove


Having tried to get himself a transfer to either Liverpool or Manchester United, Michael Owen isn’t the flavour of the month any more up at Newcastle. With Obafermi Martins almost certain of a starting spot, he will have to fight it out with Alan Smith for a first team spot.

One to Watch


Thrown in the first team last season, Andy Caroll proved that he is good enough to hold his own at this level. The tall striker could do with a little bit more experience – and Allardyce will be keen to let him get that – but, comparisons with Alan Shearer aside, he heads a batch of promising young players coming through at Newcastle.


Latest article feedback

Lee:

Good article, certainly more balanced than the previous editorial piece I read. I think the consensus amongst most Newcastle fans is that we should be pushing to achieve European qualification, either through a top-7 (sounds ridiculous, doesn't it?) finish or a cup win. Certainly we should be mixing it with teams in the top half of the table and not just making up the numbers like last season. I also suspect that the recent signing of Enrique could be a brilliant deal - not only has our left fullback position been an achilles heel for what seems like forever but he and Luque will be able to help each other settle better, possibly forging an excellent relationship on the left side of the team (along with N'Zogbia) in the absence of Duff.

8/10


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