Belfast Telegraph

Allardyce wary of in-form Magpies

West Ham boss Sam Allardyce is sure there are a lot of managers who will welcome the end of 'Black November' - but feels facing Alan Pardew's rejuvenated Newcastle could be just as tough as taking on Barclays Premier League leaders Chelsea.

Both Allardyce and Pardew had found their positions in the spotlight at the start of the campaign, but have overseen a remarkable upturn in fortunes to gatecrash the top six.

Indeed, it was not so long ago the Newcastle fans were calling for Pardew's dismissal, with the Magpies looking set for a relegation scrap before a run of six straight league wins and victory at Manchester City in the Capital One Cup has instead left fans dreaming of a return to Europe.

Had the owners of both clubs not kept faith they still had the right men in charge, then Allardyce and Pardew could easily have fallen victim to the all-too-regular manager merry-go-round before less than half of the league matches had been played.

"It has been pretty good across the board this season in the Premier League. I don't think any manager has lost their job yet. Under the circumstances, we, as managers, all look at November as 'Black November'. That is normally when it starts. One (sacking) can escalate into two or three," he said.

"Particularly myself and Alan have had a little bit of patience from the owners. They have understood the position.

"From my point of view, I communicate with owners on a regular basis and debate how the situation is, and ask them to understand what it is.

"If it is your fault, then that is fine. If it is not, then you have to hope the results turn sooner because you can't last forever without results, no matter how patient the owners are.

"Alan has got better results than we have had recently and he has turned the corner.

"He has fitted in a lot of new players. They gelled together, they have massive confidence back, which is always lacking in a team when they don't get results.

"Apart from Chelsea, we have the most difficult game to play on Saturday because it's six wins on a trot they have gained."

Allardyce added: "We will have to play like we know we can, like we did against Manchester City and Liverpool and hopefully that will be enough to cause them problems.

"Our cutting edge in the last two games has gone missing and that is one of the reasons we have stopped winning. We have to find that again."

With forward Diafra Sakho doubtful because of an on-going back problem, Andy Carroll could face his former club.

Pardew was disappointed to have seen Carroll sold to Liverpool in a £35million move during January 2011 and believes the Gateshead-born striker could one day return to Newcastle.

Allardyce hopes West Ham will soon see the best of their club-record signing, who has only just returned to match fitness following ankle surgery.

"He is in the process of completing the pre-season and is evolving his game at the top level, and that will hopefully allow him the time to catch up on his match fitness," he said.

"The longer he stays fit, the more matches he gets, the sharper he gets. The sharper he gets, the better player he becomes."

West Ham will be without defender Winston Reid through suspension but m idfielders Stewart Downing and Cheikhou Kouyate (both knee) have returned to training.

Forward Diafra Sakho (back) remains doubtful so Andy Carroll could face his former club, while Alex Song, Mark Noble and Enner Valencia are also fitness concerns with minor knocks.

Alan Pardew admits Newcastle's six-game winning streak has come as a surprise even to him.

The 53-year-old has presided over a remarkable recovery which has seen his side haul themselves from the brink of the relegation zone and into the Barclays Premier League's top five, in the process silencing the calls for his head which had grown in volume amid the poor run of results which immediately preceded it.

An extension of that sequence at West Ham on Saturday would see the Magpies record six successive wins in the league for the first time since April 2012, and give them seven victories on the trot in all competitions - something they have not achieved since their season in the Championship in 2009-10.

Pardew, who managed the latter feat twice in the same campaign as manager of Division Two Reading in 2001-02, said: "It is kind of a unique run we have been on and it has surprised even myself.

"We have focused on one game - West Ham - to keep it going. They are going to have a big say in this, to make sure it ends there."

Newcastle have conceded just a single goal - Emmanuel Adebayor's opener at Tottenham on October 26 - in their faultless run with a defence which has changed in terms of personnel, but not effectiveness.

Pardew believes that is a result of a consistent approach which means that whoever lines up at the back, the method is much the same.

He said: "I think it has come from the fact the defenders, with the exception of Daryl [Janmaat], have been with me a long time. We don't change too much.

"They know how we work and we are pretty clear about what we should and shouldn't do. But you still need individuals to be confident and play well.

"Having said that, Paul Dummett has been a big part of it. To come in at centre-back at his age and play as well as he did, and to put in the defensive performances he has at left-back - they were on the money every time he played."

Skipper Fabricio Coloccini and fellow central defender Steven Taylor have returned to training after calf and knee injuries respectively, although it remains to be seen if either is fit enough to start at Upton Park.

But former Hammers boss Pardew knows whoever does line up at the back, they will have their work cut out to preserve the recent record with Allardyce having added astutely to his squad during the summer.

The Magpies manager said: "I think West Ham signed, pound for pound, the best signings of the summer.

"I think he [Allardyce] has taken the club forward this year in terms of their style of play. With the options Sam has, I feel they're in for a big season, and I felt that in the summer.

"Although our signings have made an impact - such as Janmaat, [Jack] Colback and [Ayoze] Perez - our real strength has come from within. Sammy [Ameobi], Rolando [Aarons], Gabby [Obertan], Dummett - all these guys have pushed up a little notch.

"But both teams have improved greatly on last year."

Both managers this weekend have occupied the other's dugout in the past, with Pardew spending more than three years in charge at the Boleyn Ground and Allardyce lasting just eight months on Tyneside.

However, the present incumbent at St James' Park is relishing a trip back to a stadium where his side secured a 3-1 victory last term.

Pardew said: "It's a special game for me. When we went back last year, it was terrific. We really played well and it was one of our best performances - that made me proud.

"I have a lot of love for West Ham and the people and the fans there. It would be great going back there any time, but with this team at the moment, it's good news."

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