Sam Allardyce: I'll know in 10 minutes if Sunderland are complacent against Everton
Sam Allardyce believes he will know within the opening 10 minutes of tomorrow's survival opportunity if complacency has set in amongst his Sunderland players.
Sunderland can see the finish line in the Premier League relegation scrap, with only two points required from the final two games to beat the drop and propel both Newcastle and Norwich City into the Championship.
But Allardyce’s concern is that complacency could become Sunderland’s biggest threat to sealing their safety against Everton tomorrow night after the Black Cats moved into such a strong position through their stunning weekend victory over Chelsea.
There was no hint of any players taking anything for granted during their post-match interviews on Saturday night, as they spoke repeatedly of finishing the job against an out-of-form Everton side, who have won just one of their last nine games.
Yet after Sunderland produced such a tireless physical effort to beat Chelsea, Allardyce says it will be immediately apparent if they have let their standards slip.
“They talk about it, but I’ll be glad to see it on the field,” said Allardyce, who only has Billy Jones as an injury worry, with centre-half Lamine Kone available to face the Toffees.
“I’ll know in the first five or 10 minutes whether they’re going to be that committed or not, or whether they allow the size of the game to cause them any problems.
“Now it’s a case of a win will get us safe, there’s no greater pressure, other than you must win the last game of the season to stay up.
“We have to deal with that and then there’s this air of ‘surely we’ll beat Everton after beating Chelsea’.
“That’s not the case. We’ve got to perform at the highest level because Everton will come having been criticised for their performance against Leicester.
“Roberto (Martinez, Everton manager) will have them really fired up to give a performance and we have to be very careful about an Everton side who have a better away record than home one.
“Because we switched off defensively at Everton, we ended up losing 6-2 there, so they can hurt us with the quality of players they’ve got in the front line.
“We have to master those abilities first and then hit the weaknesses they have.”
Allardyce admits the manner and magnitude of Sunderland’s victory over Chelsea was still sinking in when the Black Cats squad gathered at the Academy of Light on Sunday.
But he was able to reflect on the determination shown by his players to record a first home win since February, as Sunderland produced their biggest physical output of the campaign.
“We had a relaxing day on Sunday and reflected a bit on how the game panned out,” added Allardyce.
“I suppose on Sunday morning I woke up and pinched myself and thought ‘how did we manage that one?’.
“Based on statistics, we should never have got that result, but based on the commitment, passion and effort that I spoke about in the media beforehand about what we needed, we got every inch of that.
“That was why they ultimately came away with a victory and with such quality finishing.
“It was a huge result for many factors – one, because we needed it so much, two, because we came from behind twice and three, we gave our biggest performance of the season in terms of high-intensity sprinting; nearly 13,000 metres.
“That’s a huge amount of sprinting output and the players deserve a lot of credit for that.
“And from my point of view, we’ve got to do the same tomorrow now, which might give us the platform to beat Everton.”