Sam Allardyce was midway through his pre-match press duties yesterday when he was suddenly forced to change his tune.
Allardyce was sympathising with Jose Mourinho and the “staggering” decline of the Premier League champions, when phones began to vibrate with text messages revealing that Chelsea had wielded the axe just 48 hours before Sunderland’s trip to Stamford Bridge.
It took me a couple of games to get that first result, against NewcastleSam Allardyce
Even in this managerial merry-go-round era, when Premier League clubs are so desperate remain on the gravy train of the new television deal, Allardyce was shocked by Mourinho’s departure and particularly the timing of it.
The widespread reaction of Sunderland fans, by contrast, appeared to be one of annoyance; that a sinking, confidence-starved Chelsea side would get the bounce effect stemming from a new manager just in time for the visit of the Black Cats.
Allardyce isn’t taking it as a given that there will automatically be an upturn in Chelsea’s fortunes though; stressing that his first game culminated in defeat at West Brom before victory over Newcastle eight days later.
“Only time will tell (if it’s good for us)” said Allardyce.
“I don’t know if Chelsea are looking for a reaction.
“Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.
“It took me a couple of games to get that first result, against Newcastle.
“From my point of view, it’s focusing on my players and making sure they play at their best tomorrow.
“There has to be an ebb of low confidence at Chelsea at the moment.
“But we’re in a worse position than them, second-bottom again after such great results for Bournemouth and Newcastle last weekend.
“We’ve got a fight on our hands and our fight has to be against Chelsea.
“We have to try to come out on top.”
Mourinho tried praise, criticism and defence of his charges this season, yet none had manage to reverse the fortunes of the champions.
Chelsea, in 16th place, find themselves only three points ahead of second-bottom Sunderland in the table and could fall into the relegation zone if results go against them this weekend.
“Whatever happens at the football club, the manager is ultimately responsible if you don’t win football matches,” said Allardyce.
“That’s what’s happened to Jose this season.
“I’m sure he’s been baffled himself.
“I’m sure he’s been sat at home on many occasions over the last couple of months and thought he’ll get it right, ‘I’ll do this, I’ll do that’.
“In the past, he’s always made things right, but this one has probably been a real shock to him that it’s lasted so long.”
Mourinho’s sacking stemmed from Chelsea suffering nine defeats out of 16 Premier League outings this season, including home losses to Crystal Palace, Southampton, Liverpool and Bournemouth.
But although Monday night’s 2-1 defeat at Leicester kept Chelsea in the doldrums, Allardyce would be happy even if Sunderland came away with a draw tomorrow.
“Any positive result is a good result, irrespective of where they are and what form they’re in at this moment of time,” he added.
“Getting a point at Chelsea would be a very good result indeed.
“If we were able to follow Bournemouth and win there, that would be outstanding.”