MARTIN O’Neill admits he is an admirer of the job that Sam Allardyce does at clubs.
And he says Sunderland can expect the typical rough and tumble challenge at Upton Park tomorrow that everyone has to expect against a Big Sam side.
“Sam is a very experienced manager with a tried and tested set of methods that have proven successful for him.
“When he went to West Ham United and they were in the Championship, you always felt that they were likely then to get out of the division because of his appointment.
“It is a very, very hard division to get out of but he managed to get them out of it at the first attempt last season.
“And now he is back in the Premier League, you have to say that you expect West Ham to stay in this division this season because he’s there.”
Allardyce has had to endure criticism throughout his career for his route-one to the big man approach, coupled with a robust approach to play and a reliance on scoring from set pieces but the former Sunderland centre-half makes no apologies for that approach and O’Neill doesn’t think he should either.
He said: “That’s always something that’s thrown at him but it’s not as if it’s against the rules.
“There’s more than one way to play and you have to try to do what you think is best for you as a manager.
“We’d all like to play like Real Madrid but it is just not possible.
“I watched the Everton v Newcastle game early in the week and that was full of two teams launching the ball long into the penalty area.
“There’s nothing wrong with that and it can create a lot of goalscoring opportunities.
“As well as launching it long though, Everton and Newcastle also had plenty of players who can play good football too.
“So what you saw was a lot of direct balls into the area but also players who could play too and it was a good mixture.
“West Ham have their own approach under Sam but that also includes players who can play and they will be a difficult challenge for all sorts of reasons.
“But we know what to expect and we have to do our best to combat that.
“They will be a threat from set-pieces and in an ideal world, the aim will be to give as few away as possible.
“But then we have players who can be a real threat from set-pieces too and we’ll go there in a very positive frame of mind.
“I’m looking forward to the match and it’s one that we will approach in a very positive fashion.”