Allardyce keen to keep Owen
Sam Allardyce slipped into the Newcastle hotseat and swiftly revealed his intention to resolve Michael Owen's situation as a matter of urgency.
The 52-year-old was unveiled as Glenn Roeder's successor this afternoon after signing a three-year contract to inherit a job which has assumed the appearance of the proverbial poisoned chalice in recent years.
He did so against the backdrop of intense speculation over the £17million England striker's future on Tyneside amid claims he could leave for as little as £9million after managing just 14 appearances for the club in two years.
Allardyce met those players who did not have other commitments at the training ground this morning after arriving in the north-east by helicopter, but will speak to the others, principally Owen, as soon as possible.
Whether his ambitions for the club can persuade Owen his future remains at St James' Park remains to be seen, but that is the new manager's hope.
He said: 'At the end of the day, I do not know, I have not spoken to Michael. I can only speculate on the speculation.
'Until I get the chance to speak to him, I do not really know what he is thinking.
'But when I do get the opportunity to talk to him, he will tell me what he is thinking and whatever he is thinking, we will think and react on that.
'I will speak to Michael on the phone in the near future - and any other player who was not there today - and take it from there.
'For me, the speculation around Michael will be resolved as soon as possible once we get the chance to speak to him.'
Asked further about Owen and £10million strike-partner Obafemi Martins, who went AWOL after claiming to be injured ahead of the season's finale at Watford on Sunday, Allardyce added: 'You would not want to lose your leading goalscorers, would you?
'Certainly from that point of view, they are two fantastic goalscorers who are very much a part of the future for Newcastle.'
Confirmation of Allardyce's appointment finally came this morning after the deal which handed him the chance to launch the latest phase of his career was thrashed out yesterday.
Twelve months ago, he was hugely disappointed to miss out on the England job, but he admitted his latest opportunity came as a massive consolation.
Allardyce, who insisted there was no get-out clause in his contract should the national job become available once again during his time at St James', said: 'Yes, absolutely, yes. I am looking forward to working and having the sort of resources I have never had before.
'I am looking forward to trying to invest those resources in the best possible players we can find to make sure we can compete at the highest level against the sides in the Premiership, and ultimately to try to break into the big four.
'This club is capable of doing that - that is why I am here.'
The new boss has already held talks with chairman Freddy Shepherd - who did not appear alongside him at this afternoon's press conference after suffering a painful rib fracture - over his transfer budget and targets.
However, perhaps his more immediate concern will be to quell the unrest in a dressing room which has become increasingly unruly in recent weeks.
Martins' disappearance, coupled with French midfielder Charles N'Zogbia's anger at being named only among the substitutes at Watford provided further evidence of unrest, and senior professionals Shay Given and Nicky Butt both later questioned the desire of some of their team-mates.
However, Allardyce insists he will have no qualms about restoring discipline.
He said: 'I can do that. I have got no problems. If there is any unrest in the dressing room, it will be my job to find out and resolve those problems.
'The only way the club will get success is by having a team spirit where everybody fights for each other and everybody looks after each other.
'If we do not get that, it does not matter how good your players are, you will get those factions and you will get those Chinese whispers that can cause a distraction from what the ultimate goal is.
'Everybody here at Newcastle wants success, so we should all pull the same way to get that.
'But if there is anything to sort out in the dressing room, that would not be a problem from my point of view.
'I will find out where it is, I will sort it out and then we will get on with it.'