Monday, May 14, 2007

Last throw of the Allardyce

So, the club have called a press conference for 1pm tomorrow at which there seems little doubt Sam Allardyce will be unveiled as our new manager, his "break from football" lasting less than a month. Our haste to tie him down has no doubt been partly determined by the news of old boy Stuart Pearce's sacking by Man City.

For Freddie Shepherd it's surely last chance saloon, especially after his recent quip about Michael Owen to a couple of Scousers, just the latest in a long, long line of offences to have invited ridicule and scorn upon the club. If the appointment comes off, then he'll have saved his bacon. But if it doesn't, the calls for the fat bastard to fuck off will surely penetrate even that thick skull.

Talking on the BBC's 'Inside Sport', Alan Shearer has been diplomatic rather than enthusiastic about the probable appointment: "Sam is an expert at getting the best out of players. I hope dearly he goes up there and wins a trophy. It is such a huge club and they are starved of success".

Our former captain is evidently under no illusions about the scale of the job the new man will face, having commented: "There are a lot of personalities there that need sorting out. I think a lot of players have gone stale". Interestingly, similar noises have been coming from within the squad itself; Nicky Butt - whose own commitment to the cause was in question not so very long ago - has declared "it's important to say" that there are currently "a few players that don't want to play for the club".

Two whose futures may well be in doubt are Obafemi Martins, whose whereabouts still appear to be unknown following his decision to declare himself unfit for yesterday's match, and Charles N'Zogbia, who allegedly threw a strop having originally been named on the bench - a far cry from last season, when he finished a man in form and one of our brightest prospects.

Meanwhile, the speculation about Michael Owen's future is inevitably ongoing. In the 'Inside Sport' interview Shearer responded to the question of whether he'll still be at St James' next season with a firm "Yes" - but then Shearer's sense of Owen's loyalty to the club may be warped somewhat by his own, and Fat Fred's idiotic comments to all and sundry over the past week can't have helped matters at all.

One player who looks likely never to make it to Tyneside at all is Steve Sidwell, the departure of Glenn Roeder having apparently fatally derailed what had been billed as a done deal. Sidwell, released by Reading, has now agreed to join an unnamed club, with Chelsea his likely destination. Of course, whether we would have had any chance of signing him even if Roeder had stayed in charge once Chelsea declared their hand is not exactly a moot point.

Suffice to say that we are currently in an even greater state of tumult than normal - and that, despite our miserable season having mercifully come to an end (see below), Black & White & Read All Over is likely to remain a busy place over the coming days and weeks.


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