Sam Allardyce, The £12 Million Gamble

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This time, COS reader Ankur ponders whether Fat Sam can bring Premiership success for “DA TOON”.

Sam Allardyce has been appointed the Newcastle United manager, but is he the right man?

Well that is the £12 million question that all Newcastle fans should be asking themselves. The £12 million pound figure relates to the £9 million three year deal he signed as well as the two years compensation that Newcastle United will have to pay Bolton. This is simply one appointment Freddy Shepard cannot get wrong.

A quick look at Newcastle’s finances reveals that they are in a precarious position. When Newcastle’s financial results were published on 30th March 2007 for the 6 months up to 31st December 2006, it was revealed that the wages: turnover ratio was 66.9% (it is important to note that this figure does not include Michael Owen’s compensation deal). That is quite a staggering statistic when one considers that the recommended figure is 50%. This is coupled with the fact that since Newcastle United have finished 13th this season they will lose £3 million in TV revenue from Sky compared to the previous season when they finished 7th. As there is no European football next season, the finances will be even harder hit from lost gate receipts and TV money.

One of the lesser-known facts about Fat Sam’s operations at Bolton was that he was a big advocate of spots science and he had a backroom-team of 21 staff. That is considerably higher than what Glenn Roeder would have had and it will be interesting to see whether Freddy will sanction such a large backroom force (Freddy says that he will, but he says a lot of things). Personally I think previous Newcastle managers have largely neglected the backroom side of things. The amount of injuries that Newcastle players keep suffering is baffling. Freddy made this point when he compared the injury records of Newcastle and Bolton stating that Bolton lost 72 player days to injury compared to 340 lost by Newcastle.

A further thing that the backroom team of Bolton was particularly effective at was helping foreign players integrate into their new surroundings. In a Guardian article written a few months previously Allardyce comments that they help foreign players by finding houses for them, opening bank accounts etc. This is something that Newcastle can certainly learn from. Charles N’Zogbia has consistently complained about homesickness and how difficult he has found it to adapt to living in Newcastle. Although his tantrum at Watford will undoubtedly result in disciplinary action, I hope it is not the end of his career at Newcastle because he has a lot of potential, which Sam can help him unleash.

Whilst there have been lots of rumours indicating a £40 million warchest for Sam to spend this summer, I am really not sure where the money will come from. With debts of around £80 million, giving Sam a large wad of cash to spend instantly would be completely reckless. Sam has done very well with Bolton by operating on a tight budget and he has achieved top eight finishes in the past four seasons. What is needed at Newcastle is a complete top-down structural reform. This will require time and Sam is the right person to do the job. There are a lot of money-grabbing lazy b******s at the club (Dyer, Luque etc.) and the fickle Newcastle supporters must give Sam the time he needs.

The Newcastle job gives Sam the opportunity he has always wanted, to go down in footballing folklore. The success-starved Geordies will eternally remember whichever manager brings success to Newcastle. Newcastle is a big club, not in terms of what the club has achieved, but the resources that the club has its disposal. Which other club apart from the top four has a 52,000 seater stadium, the financial power to pay transfer fees of £15 million plus and pay wages upwards of £100,000. These are the megabucks which Allardyce could never dream of having at Bolton.

The only thing that may stop Sam is the fair-weather Newcastle fans, who boo at every opportunity. These fans need to realise that Sam will need time; success will not be instantaneous. Under Sam’s stewardship Bolton’s first two Premiership finishes were in the bottom half. If the fans give him time, I think he will bring success. However a lot of Newcastle fans know more about what they drink than what they do about football and that isn’t saying much.

Sam I wish you well – but be warned the fans will spare you no mercy if it goes wrong.