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Unbeaten, Unsatisfied Newcastle

Newcastle United, for one, hasn't endured the happiest of takeovers. Englishman Mike Ashley took control of the club about a month ago, purchasing 90 percent of Newcastle's shares. But Manager Sam Allardyce is already at odds with the new owners, who "know very little about the football side" of running a club. With opening day barely two weeks away, Allardyce says he needs more players, especially in defense.

Newcastle's preseason form is not helping him: the Magpies are 4-0 this summer with some impressive wins under their belt, including a 4-1 thrashing of Glasgow Celtic and a 2-0 win over Juventus. But Allardyce isn't convinced: "Pre-season friendlies tend to give people false hope. Just because we've beaten Celtic and Juventus doesn't mean we're going to do well," he said, adding that beginning the season with the players who finished the game against Juve "would be a disaster for us," because the Premiership "ain't about playing pretty football, it's about nitty gritty, do-or-die football. When the pressure comes, inexperienced players fail."

That said, Allardyce's men beat Juventus without most of their starting lineup: Michael Owen, Shola Ameobi, Emre Belozoglu, Joey Barton, Damien Duff, Nicky Butt, Steven Taylor, Mark Viduka and Celestine Babayaro all did not play.

Read the whole story at Times Online »

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