Manager on Monday

Sam Allardyce was keen not to apportion any of the blame for Saturday's last-minute loss to Tottenham Hotspur on Hammer of the Year Mark Noble.

The Academy graduate and normally-reliable penalty taker missed his first spot kick of Allardyce's reign when he dragged his effort from 12 yards wide on 28 minutes. Although the miss did end up proving costly with Eric Dier netting a last-minute winner for the visitors, Big Sam thought his side should have spared Noble's blushes by taking one of the many changes that followed.

"I think if we'd scored the penalty we win the game," Big Sam said. "I don't think there's much doubt about that. In the end I would want the rest of the players to forgive Mark and not lie on him as a heavy burden as he doesn't deserve it as his penalty taking in the three years I've been here has been supreme.

"We've got to forgive him for missing the odd one and the rest of the lads should have made up for that and when Nobes came in they should have smacked him on the back of the head and said don't worry about it we've got you out of jail as we should have won.

"The Premier League will punish if you don't finish your chances and they punished us on Saturday."

Despite the disappointing end to what was an enthralling contest, Big Sam felt there were plenty of positives to be taken. Much of the talk among the media afterwards centred on the impressive debuts of Aaron Cresswell and Cheikhou Kouyate and the brief late cameo of Enner Valencia, which pointed to more exciting times to come.

"When everyone is fit our squad runs at the same level as most teams around our level. We will have about 23 players and we can have 25 only so if they all get fit and we don't get as many injuries then we will be OK. We have players who are not quite ready to play as well like Valencia and [new signing Diafra] Sakho.

"They have to feel their way into the Premier League so further down the line when they had the experience and the injured players come back, we will be much better in strength in depth. I think the team played exceptionally well on Saturday and should have won the game but they let it slip.

"We will be working with them on the training pitch, but it is not going to be a magic potion overnight or wave a magic wand. It is about time and about talking to them and telling them about the areas of calm that you might need and positions you can get into to improve what you can already do and do better."

Looking ahead, a Premier League trip to Crystal Palace and a home match with Southampton a week later sandwich a Capital One Cup tie with Sheffield United, and the manager talked up the importance of ensuring his side chalk up some early points on the board.

"Everything is the start. Everything is then a trigger to the whole season and whereabouts you are going to lay and finish. The perfect example is our first two seasons in the Premier League, where we acquired 14 points in the first eight games but only eight points from the first eight last season and we saw that last season was a struggle.

"Our life is about results and it doesn't matter how well we play or compete against the opposition, the end game is winning and we haven't won so people will be disappointed.

"Nobody will be more disappointed than me or the players as we all knew we were in a great position to start the season off with a very good three points against a team that was meant to finish in the top four this season. In terms of creating changes, could we have done any more? I don't think so."