Why Sam Allardyce is so desperate to avoid another Sunderland last-day nail-biter
Sam Allardyce has urged his Sunderland side to fulfil the 'dream scenario' and avoid the last-day jitters, as he experienced during his playing days with the Black Cats.
It’s D-Day Minus One for Sunderland, with victory against Everton tomorrow night extending the club’s Premier League tenure into a 10th year and relegating Newcastle and Norwich in the process.
Even if Sunderland come away with a point, they would require only another point from Sunday’s final day at Watford to beat the drop, yet boss Allardyce is desperate to avoid the survival scrap going down to the wire after experiencing that scenario during his playing days at Roker Park.
Allardyce was part of the Sunderland squad that required just a draw against relegation rivals Brighton from the penultimate game of the 1980-81 season to guarantee safety, but the Black Cats suffered a 2-1 defeat and left themselves needing a win at Liverpool to survive.
Sunderland managed to achieve that objective on the final day of the season, but Allardyce doesn’t want a repeat scenario by the Black Cats blowing their big chance against Everton.
He told the Echo: “I cast my mind back to when I played here and the last thing I want to happen is the same thing that happened to me.
“What did we have to do with two games to go? We only had to draw with Brighton to stay up.
“We lost in the last minute.
“We went from two games to go needing one point, to one game needing three points. Luckily, good old Stan Cummins scored the winner at Liverpool away.
“But we don’t want to put ourselves in that situation tomorrow.”
Prior to Saturday, Allardyce had expected the relegation fight to go to the final day, with Newcastle facing a golden opportunity against whipping boys Aston Villa.
But with Sunderland’s stunning victory over Chelsea coupled by results elsewhere going in their favour, the Black Cats now have the chance to seal their own destiny in front of what is expected to be another sell-out crowd.
“Chelsea was one of those results that everyone looked at and thought how have they done that?” added Allardyce.
“But it is the dream scenario.
“It is something that you strive for. We all have to try to help the players grasp it while they’ve got the chance and not let it slip.
“It’s one more big commitment if you like and one more big performance.
“Then we can all sleep a little easier after that.”