The very own Sam Allardyce mentioned it in his autobiography: “I was offered the Manchester City job.”
He surely must still be mad at that lost chance considering what came next to the Blue side of the Mancunian surroundings... and what the future had reserved for him under the ownership of Newcastle’s Lord Mike Ashley when he signed him ahead of the 2007-08 campaign... only to fire him before the season’s end... and barely after Christmas and into the new calendar year. LOL.
The truth is, Allardyce was atrocious in his short Tyneside tenure. He kicked things off relatively well with a win, two draws, and another win before losing his first game more than a month before his Premier League debut on the Magpie bench.
Problems quickly followed, though, with Newcastle unable to win a single game between Oct. 23rd and Dec. 7th. Allardyce led a team that was good to earn two points in that six-game span, and although he finally won back-to-back matches in MD16 and MD17, he followed that up with a draw and three more losses before things went dark for him at St James’ Park.
Newcastle and Big Sam parted ways on Jan. 9th, 2008, and neither party ever looked back. In another part of his bio, Allardyce wrote that he was called to meet NUFC’s chairman at that time “expecting to be told about a new player signing only to learn he was getting replaced by Kevin Keegan.” That’s hella extraordinary, funny, depressive, and Mike Ashley-esque all rolled into one big taco.
Biggie has gone on to coach all across he country since he got fired by Newcastle more than 15 years ago (time flies!), including stints at Blackburn, West Ham, Sunderland, Crystal Palace, Everton, West Brom, and now Leeds United. He even briefly took charge of the England international side in 2016, although, you know, maybe you can learn more about that on your own instead of making me write about it all on this clean piece of digital paper.
Whatever your opinion about Sam Allardyce is, the truth is that the man is doomed to endure a relegation battle for the next few weeks. His short-but-hard fight at the helm of Leeds already started last weekend when all he could do was debut in defeat against—you guessed it right—Man City of all teams.
It’s very fair to assume Leeds will lose to NUFC. It’s also not hard to envision them dropping points against Tottenham in their last game of the season. The only path forward (read: staying in the EPL) is for Leeds and Sammy to score some points (three, optimally) against a struggling West Ham that enters the weekend in 15th place with seven points over Leeds and probably facing the Whites a week from now having already dodged the possibility of getting relegated and thus playing for nothing.
Poor, old, Allardyce. What could have been... and what it’s ended up being.
Howe took to the microphones and addressed the most pressing questions by the media on Friday one day before the Magpies go on the road for the game at Leeds scheduled for Saturday, May 13th.
You can read everything Howe had to say here, as part of our pre-match coverage.
The Guardian predictions at the upcoming Starting XIs from the Magpies and the Whites are in, so let’s go through what could be coming from Newcastle’s Eddie Howe.
- Not Available: Krafth (knee), Lascelles (hamstring), Ritchie (knee), Longstaff (ankle)
- Doubtful: —
- No changes in the back nor under the goalposts. Pope stays put, the main defensive line has been hella strong even after the inevitable defeat against title-contenders Arsenal, and there is no reason to make any changes with that top-4 place still not clinched.
- The midfield is going to hurt big time for the final three games. Howe just confirmed in his pre-game press conference that Sean Longstaff has avoided a supremely bad injury but he also said that the Academy man is going to be taken care of very smoothly and swiftly, with the chance of him not getting forced back into the lineup any time soon. Considering NUFC will play midweek and next weekend again, and only once after that, there is a chance Longstaff does not play any more matches this campaign.
- While Longstaff’s injury doesn’t entirely force Howe into using Joelinton, Bruno, and Joe Willock for the whole 90 minutes each in the next three games, odds are that’s what is going to happen. The alternatives are scarce at best with Elliot Anderson and Anthony Gordon the only makeshift possibilities. Both play better in more advanced positions, so it’s going to be slim picks if anyone goes down injured and joins Longstaff and Matt Ritchie (also done for the year) on the shelves.
- That contrasts highly with the embarrassment of riches present in the wings. Miguel Almiron and Allan Saint-Maximin have been around the training facilities and even gotten some minutes in recent games. Anthony Gordon, the same. Jacob Murphy has excelled, and Alexander Isak has no problem starting on the left wing and cutting inside.
- After the failed Isak-Wilson experiment from last weekend, and although Howe said on Friday that he will still give that pairing a thought or two for the remaining three games, I just can’t see that really happening no matter if the Magpies are facing Leeds or a top-tier team. Howe never liked the idea of starting both forward, and after losing the only game in which he did and not sounding very convinced of how well they played together, it’s impossible to see Howe falling for it a second time in a span of few days.
- That’d see Isak play the lone striker role on Saturday. That’s not bad, in fact, considering Miggy and ASM are back and fit to play from the start. I’d say Saint-Maximin starts on the left wing.
- The opposite side is harder to predict. Jacob Murphy has started two in a row but his performance levels have dropped a bit. Miggy was sublime in the first half of the season, then hit the wall. We still don’t know that much about Anthony Gordon. Let’s throw him in there tomorrow against a low-level Leeds and see how he does. Can’t get much easier than this game for him to put on a show, truth be told.
CHN Predicted Lineup
DEF Trippier - Schar - Botman - Burn
MID Joelinton - Bruno - Willock
WNG Gordon - Saint-Maximin
HOWAY NEWCASTLE! #LEENEW pic.twitter.com/FzMUaFg3ue— Newcastle United FC (@NUFC) May 13, 2023
Your #LUFC Starting XI... pic.twitter.com/qQURvNhTLD— Leeds United (@LUFC) May 13, 2023
- Date: Saturday, May 13th
- Kick-off: 12:30 BST / 7:30 EST
- Location: Ellan Road, Leeds (England)
- Broadcasts: fuboTV (CAN) — nbcsports.com, USA Network, SiriusXM FC, NBC Sports App (USA) — BTSport.com, BBC Radio 5 Live, BT Sport 1, BT Sport Ultimate, BT Sport App (UK)
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Howay the Lads!