Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)


Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)


Article excerpt

Byline: By ALAN OLIVER Chief Sports Writer

SAM ALLARDYCE will lead Newcastle United into tomorrow's crucial televised game with Arsenal at St James's Park after another sleepless night.

For while his opposite number Arsene Wenger will have slept like a baby, Allardyce confessed today that he is tossing and turning every night after United's form has suffered a dramatic and so-depressing dip.

And the United boss will have found it much harder counting sheep than totting up United's recent points tally, with just one in the bag from the last 15.

But at least Big Sam will gain some comfort from the fact that, in the past few seasons, whenever Arsenal arrived at Bolton he always made life pretty uncomfortable for them.

Allardyce was forced to defend himself yesterday after the Chronicle had revealed players had dissented over tactics, training and plans to stay away from the North East over Christmas.

But he scoffed at any suggestion of his having lost control of the dressing room, insisting confrontation is a fact of life for a football manager.

"Players are not happy about a lot of the stuff I do because they're players and I'm the manager," he said.

"I'm the man who knows what's right for them and I know it more than they do. That's why I sit in this chair. It's immaterial."

There is constant talk that Allardyce's job is under threat - something he accepts that goes with the territory of being manager of Newcastle United - and another defeat tomorrow night would only increase speculation.

These are difficult days for Big Sam, and for the second game runnning at St James's Park and following on from Rafa Benitez's visit, he finds himself up against a manager in Wenger who is not exactly his buddy.

When asked if United's present predicament - four defeats and that draw at Sunderland in United's last five games - is giving him sleepless night, he replied without hesitation: "Yes."

But he quickly added: "To be honest, I don't really sleep much anyway - even less when I am in a position like I am in now, because you want to look at yourself first.

"You are the one who has to change what you need to change, and the way you are going to go about your job is very important in terms of the people who look up to see if they get the leadership they need to pull them through it. …

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