Everton are back in Premier League action again tomorrow, this time on a trip to St. James’ Park to face Newcastle under former Reds boss Rafa Benitez. Speaking during his pre-match press conference earlier today, new manager Sam Allardyce was stoic about returning to Tyneside, one of the many stops on his coaching tour and facing yet another manager he’s had some drama with before.
“Past history wasn’t great, previous history is okay. At Chelsea, and the quick trip to Newcastle, we were fine. I’m amicable with anybody that’s the same with me. If we’re having a drink that’s fine, if you don’t want to drink, that’s fine by me as well.
“I haven’t had any animosity with him recently. There was a good battle at the time, it was trying to make my way in the Premier League, Rafa just coming in here with Liverpool. We managed to beat them by the way we play and he didn’t like it and he expressed his opinion.
“If you want to say it’s mind games, it’s mind games, but at that particular time, Liverpool were not supposed to lose to Bolton Wanderers. What really happened was people didn’t know how good, and how great that Bolton team really was.”
On his thoughts on facing the current Newcastle side, Allardyce chose to focus on the environment rather than the players.
“St James’ Park is always a test for your players. The test is to nullify Newcastle’s attacking flair because it keeps the crowd quiet. The crowd at Newcastle, when the team is in full flow, spur the players on to good performances.
“If you can keep them quiet, keep possession and frustrate them and then play through their lines, then that crowd goes quiet and you get the opportunity to go expose and attack their defence.
“They conceded three goals against Leicester City so we’ll be looking at that, particularly at what areas did Leicester expose Newcastle to score, and see if we can do the same.”
When asked if this was a dangerous time to play Newcastle who have lost six of their last seven games, Allardyce again talked about his own squad’s capabilities.
“With all our injuries, we always have to be 100% to achieve any results. I don’t expect it to be any easier than the Liverpool game. If you sit off for a second, or relax for a second in the Premier League, especially away from home, then teams will punish you.
“We have to be 100%. We have to play a different tactic because it is a different team, who have different sets of skills and obviously different weaknesses. Our plan will be slightly different to the Liverpool one.”