Sam Allardyce sets up ‘war room’ to counteract Sunderland’s relegation threat

Mark Taylor.
Mark Taylor.
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Sam Allardyce has created a “War Room” at the Academy of Light, in a bid to replicate the statistical success that the Sunderland manager enjoyed at Bolton.

The Echo reported earlier this month how Allardyce had mapped out a detailed blueprint to his players over when and where Sunderland need to pick up points if they are to secure Premier League survival with some breathing space.

I’ve always said that a team is successful because of the team behind it

That is one of a number of off-field changes that Allardyce has introduced since succeeding Dick Advocaat last month, with the Sunderland squad now facing a routine which includes ice baths and iPad homework.

Together with new performance director Mark Taylor, Allardyce has also set-up a staff-only room, where coaches can spend hours viewing and discussing detailed statistical and video analysis on each player.

Allardyce has had a similar facility in his management career since his days at former club Bolton – where it was known as the War Room – and he believes it played a crucial role in the Trotters bucking expectations in the Premier League.

He told the Echo: “It’s not really called a war-room here – although we may call it that, I don’t know yet – but it’s a place to make the right decisions.

“At a club like this, time can be wasted through distractions and we have to make sure that doesn’t happen.

“One of our first ‘brief’ discussions lasted for over an hour, where we debated a lot of subject matter, and I think it is very important to take the time to do that.

“Discussion in a room like that, with all the phones off, and taking as long as it takes, means you can formulate the right decisions to guide the players to victories.

“Our challenge is to extract more out of the backroom staff than anybody else has done.

“That was always my goal at Bolton where it all first started, and it’s always been my goal from there on at every club I have managed.”

Taylor – who has worked with Allardyce since their days together at Blackpool – was the only external appointment to Sunderland’s backroom team after last month’s change in the dug-out.

The ex-Hartlepool winger is travelling to every game with the squad; coordinating analysis as the match is taking place.

“I’ve always said that a team is successful because of the team behind it,” added Allardyce.

“That team provides the support needed and covers every angle it needs to cover so that there are no excuses for the players to make, and we certainly have the facilities here and the staff here to try and achieve more.”