Fergie: Expectation too high on Tyneside
Sir Alex Ferguson has insisted Newcastle only have themselves to blame for almost four decades of chronic underachievement. The Manchester United manager was expecting to meet up with Sam Allardyce at Old Trafford tomorrow, only for his old friend to get the sack on Wednesday, just 24 games into his St James' Park reign. Ferguson has already spoken to Allardyce, who was as surprised as most of the football fraternity beyond Tyneside, unable to comprehend the need for such a knee-jerk reaction. It means Newcastle have now got rid of 10 managers during Ferguson's 21 years with the Red Devils, including some of the biggest names in the game, none of whom have achieved any tangible success. And the Scot - who took almost four years to win his first trophy at United - feels the Magpies' misery will only continue until they learn to stand by their men. 'The expectation levels at Newcastle are too great, a lot of people are saying that now,' said Ferguson. 'When you analyse the situation up there, it is beyond belief. 'They have had two managers who have won World Cups - Jack Charlton and Ossie Ardiles - as players, four who have won the European Cups as players - Kevin Keegan, Kenny Dalglish, Ruud Gullit and Graeme Souness - and Sir Bobby Robson, who took England to the World Cup semi-finals. 'You would think one of them would have won something given the right time. 'I don't know what you can say about the situation up there but it is a strange club.' Ferguson was at Stoke on Sunday to see Newcastle battle to an FA Cup third round draw which seemed to have kept Allardyce in a job but ultimately proved to be his last match in charge. Although the United boss had heard all the speculation over Allardyce's position, he did not see a team at the Britannia Stadium that had given up on their manager. And he still cannot quite believe a man who was so successful in his previous job at Bolton was given so little time to have an impact in the north-east. 'I heard all the rumours but I still could not see it happening,' he reflected. 'Sometimes, when a manager is under pressure it filters through to the team. You can see signs in players trying to do their best for their manager but they just cannot find it. 'I didn't see that on Sunday. I thought the spirit and response from Newcastle was good. You could not look at that and say those players are not playing for the manager, far from it. 'The unfortunate thing for Sam was that (owner) Mike Ashley did not appoint him. That was probably the most dangerous situation Sam found himself in. 'I still find it amazing though. The people who picked him did so on the back of an outstanding CV given the work he did at Bolton, plus the experience and presence he had. 'And yet, after 24 games, he has gone. That tells you everything about the modern-day game.' The latest managerial upheaval has not helped Ferguson's planning for tomorrow's encounter, when United will be looking for their 11th straight home win since the opening-day draw with Reading. Ferguson admitted he had 'no idea' whether interim manager Nigel Pearson, whose team have not won at Old Trafford since 1972, was planning any changes, although he does expect old boys Nicky Butt and Alan Smith to be patrolling the visitors' midfield. Owen Hargreaves is a major doubt after suffering a rib injury in training, while Danny Simpson or, more likely, John O'Shea will replace suspended defender Wes Brown. With Paul Scholes now due back 'in two or three weeks' after returning from a long-standing knee problem and Park Ji-sung earning high praise from his manager for his performance at Aston Villa last weekend just three games into a comeback from cruciate surgery, United's squad strength is starting to show through. 'Our form has been decent and after the Christmas period, I felt we were starting to look strong again in the last 20 minutes at Aston Villa,' said Ferguson. 'Our record against Newcastle is outstanding but I can't carry that into the game. We have to produce the same performance level as we have done in the past and the same energy and hopefully get the job done.'