The Newcastle United chairman, Chris Mort, yesterday tried to give Sam Allardyce the club's full backing following Saturday's demoralising 3-0 home defeat to Liverpool, and the humiliating reaction of the home fans towards Allardyce. Mort's response to a question about supporting his manager in the long term came in the reply: "We would like to," which is different from saying, "We will."
The ambiguity in his answer will not reassure Allardyce and neither will Mort's opinion on the need for new signings in January to help address the present slump. "We need our team performing on the pitch as a unit," Mort said, "I don't think adding new players will necessarily sort that out."
It would be understandable if Newcastle were considering their options post-Allardyce and if Alan Shearer is their choice they need to accelerate, because Shearer is interesting the Football Association as successor to Steve McClaren in the England post. It is thought that the interest is mutual. Shearer, however, if offered, would struggle to turn down his hometown club and his arrival would be expected to lift Newcastle in the manner of Kevin Keegan 15 years ago.
Another option is Harry Redknapp, who has impressed Newcastle's owner, Mike Ashley, enough for him last week to nominate Redknapp as his choice for England manager.
Allardyce has to work on under pressure internally and externally. Saturday's post-match dressing-room attempt at clearing the air is not thought to have convinced, with the players listening to Allardyce in near silence.
"Sam is working hard with the coaching staff to get the current squad working together," Mort said. "It is certainly not surprising the fans are not happy. You pay decent money to watch a Premier League game these days and if someone has paid their money to watch a game, then they're entitled to voice their concern if it's not going right.
"We have had two disappointing home games on the trot. The fans don't want that, the manager doesn't want that and we certainly don't want that. Sam is a very experienced manager, and I am sure he'll work hard to get his best team and how they can work together in the best way."
The apparent reluctance of the hierarchy to discuss January with Allardyce is perhaps ominous. Although Habib Beye and Claudio Cacapa have been sporadically impressive, as has Mark Viduka, Allardyce's summer signings are yet to win over fans. The back three against Liverpool – Beye, David Rozehnal and Jose Enrique – were Allardyce signings but none played well and after the game Allardyce said other defenders had been targeted first.
"I was after [Mikaël] Silvestre, [Sylvain] Distin and Tal Ben Haim, " he said. "Once your first targets have gone, you look elsewhere. Your only option is to look at what's available in the foreign markets. These are good players, but they're finding it difficult to play in the Premier League on a regular basis. All the other Premier League clubs are spending heavily, more than ever before, and that increases the quality in the division. You have to try to live with that."
There is a trip to Blackburn on Saturday and then it is Arsenal at home. The way Newcastle have been playing, there is little expectation either can be won. That would leave Allardyce with one point from 18.Reuse content