Sam Allardyce has urged his Leeds players to keep their spirits up on the road against West Ham as the savvy manager looks to spark his side’s great run
- Since his last-ditch appointment, Leeds have claimed just one point
- Victory against West Ham on Sunday will be vital as Leeds look to keep pace
- Allardyce is banking on his long history as a relegation escape artist
Sam Allardyce is targeting another epic escapology act with Leeds United heading for Sunday’s must win at West Ham.
The 68-year-old arrives at Elland Road with four games to spare and in crunch time, but his first two matches have yielded just one point.
Allardyce’s side are desperate for a win against the Hammers to boost their survival prospects heading into a potentially fraught final day clash at home to Tottenham.
Allardyce won Premier League survival scraps during spells in charge of Bolton, Blackburn, Crystal Palace, Sunderland and Everton before suffering his first relegation at West Brom in his last job.
He said: ‘I still want to stay next week at Elland Road against Tottenham, but first we have to win at West Ham. I think we’ll give ourselves a chance to stay up by playing the last game having to win that to survive — that’s the best we can ask for.
Sam Allardyce is targeting a win at West Ham to keep the leaders in the fight to stay up next season
Rasmus Kristensen grabbed a late equalizer to see the spoils shared when Newcastle visited Elland Road at the weekend
‘If we know we’re going to stick with one win regardless of what everyone else is doing, I think that’s a good place to be after only being here for these four games. If by any stretch of the imagination we get three points at West Ham and the other teams lose, it still goes down to the last game.
‘We would have to work out the maths of who does what and where, so we’ll have to wait and see. The most important thing is West Ham. Nothing matters after this.’
From dancing on the pitch with Jay-Jay Okocha at Bolton in 2003 to violently ripping off his jacket at Sunderland in 2016, Allardyce certainly knows how to celebrate Premier League survival.
He drew on all his previous experience and a Leeds side that claimed a last-day win at Brentford last season to stay up. He added: ‘Players have been in this particular situation before and so have I obviously during my managerial career.
‘At Crystal Palace, for example, we beat Arsenal 3-0 and then beat Hull City 4-0 to stay in 2017.
‘At Sunderland we beat Everton 3-0 in the penultimate game of the season and in 2003 with Bolton we beat Middlesbrough 2-1 at home to stay up on the last day.
In past seasons, Allardyce has cut a massive figure on the pitch when celebrating staying in the Premier League (pictured at Sunderland in 2016)
‘At Blackburn, we beat Tottenham 2-1 at home and it set us on course to stay up in 2008-09. We got the courage in my time [as a manager] but that doesn’t mean I can get the players to do exactly what they did. Hopefully, though, I can use my experience to help them down the line and they bring that on board. I’ve been here before, so I know what it feels like. I’m calm enough to hopefully give the players the right direction to make the right decisions on the day.’
Allardyce believes the use of his substitutes will be crucial at West Ham today. He explained: ‘I think five replacements will be a key element in the decision my staff and I will make in due course.
‘Whether it’s five, four or three, that’s a huge responsibility now as a head coach to adjust when you need to, to try and be better.
‘If you make a mistake, it can ruin the chances of the team doing well. If you do it right, it can give them a better chance of winning. That’s how calm you are to make those decisions under the pressure of that game. Whatever team West Ham choose, we have to play our best.’