Belfast Telegraph

Newcastle is no grudge match - Allardyce

West Ham boss Sam Allardyce insists he has moved on from his turbulent time at Newcastle as he prepares to face the Magpies in the Barclays Premier League this weekend.

Allardyce takes his side to St James' Park on Sunday knowing victory for the Hammers would move them four points clear of the club he was sacked from almost five years ago. The 58-year-old has since been back to the north-east as Blackburn manager and has already banished the memories of his dismissal in January 2008.

Asked whether the Newcastle game carried an extra edge, Allardyce said: "No, not for me. Those days are long gone. They happened when I got the Blackburn job and Newcastle came to Blackburn. After that they got relegated, so I didn't meet them again until we went up to Newcastle and played them."

He added: "There has been a lot of water under the bridge since then. Life moves on, I don't live in the past. I can only look to the future as best I can. It's a piece of history in my career that didn't quite work out as well as I'd liked it to."

Allardyce felt he was sacked as Newcastle boss due to a change in ownership, rather than because of results on the pitch. Mike Ashley took control of the club in summer 2007 and Allardyce reckons he wanted to bring in his own man, who proved to be former boss Kevin Keegan.

"For me, it wasn't me getting bad results at Newcastle - it was a change of ownership and a decision made at the time that they wanted their own man in," he said. "I accepted that at the time and since that time has drifted by, I have no animosity towards Newcastle United at all."

Following last weekend's 0-0 draw at home to champions Manchester City, West Ham sit ninth in the table, one point and one place above Newcastle.

But Allardyce knows the game against City marked the start of a tough run of fixtures for his side leading into the New Year and said: "I wouldn't say that I could predict that we could get this or that many points. It's a case of trying to collect points from each game as it comes."

Allardyce has also had to contend with a number of injuries in recent weeks and could see his defensive resources stretched to the limit this weekend. Both James Tomkins and James Collins face anxious waits to see if they will be passed fit for the game, with Allardyce also keeping his fingers crossed.

"We obviously have other players out injured but those are the two key players because it would leave us with only Winston Reid as a central defender. "We hope one of those two will be fit, or both of them," he said.


From Belfast Telegraph