Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Football: Sam Targets the Big Four; United Can Join Elite in Time - Boss

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Football: Sam Targets the Big Four; United Can Join Elite in Time - Boss

Article excerpt

Byline: Luke Edwards

SAM Allardyce believes the Premiership needs Newcastle United to mount a serious challenge to break up the Big Four's stranglehold on the Champions League.

But while he is confident United are one of the team's who can break the monopoly which is threatening to squeeze the competitive life out of English football's top flight, he has warned it will be almost impossible for the Magpies to achieve next season.

Despite its status as the most-watched - in terms of its global audience - domestic league in the world, English football's top honours have been dominated by Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester United and Liverpool, with Everton's FA Cup Final success in 1995 the last time a club outside of that elite group won one of the big two prizes on offer. Newcastle have shown signs in the past that they are capable of breaking up that privileged group, but years of under-achievement at St James's Park has allowed a wide gap to form between United and this self-perpetuating elite.

It is Allardyce's mission to try to bridge that gap but, while he knows he is the manager of one of the few clubs who can shake up the established order, he argued it will take him time to build up a force with the momentum to maintain that challenge. "I've come here because there is absolutely no question that this club has the potential to break into the top four," said Allardyce as he uses his first summer as manager to put the first phase of his rebuilding project into place. "It hasn't for a number of years, but I'm here to try to change that.

"We've got to realise that we can achieve that, that we have the potential, but it can only be done with a little bit of patience. Breaking into the top four has become a very difficult task.

"However, if you build slowly and grow slowly you will have an opportunity to do that. …

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