A chorus of “Big Sam Allardyce” rang around the Stadium of Light, as the Sunderland boss guided the Black Cats to a third win in his six games at the helm.
Back-to-back victories – significantly involving successive clean sheets – have been a mark of the transforming effect Allardyce has had on a Sunderland side, who were proving to be such a soft touch for their Premier League peers prior to his arrival.
It’s the players who do my talking, really, and they’ve certainly done my talking in the last two gamesSam Allardyce
But despite inevitably enjoying that reception – particularly after regularly encountering disdain from supporters at former club West Ham – Allardyce was quick to praise his players after wins over Crystal Palace and Stoke City have injected fresh belief into Sunderland’s survival bid.
Allardyce said: “It’s a great shout for me, it’s nice to hear them sing your name, of course.
“But it’s the players who do my talking, really, and they’ve certainly done my talking in the last two games.
“Hopefully they continue to do that.
“It looks like they’re using their experience and the knowledge that they’ve got.
“I’m trying to guide them in the right direction, and give them the opportunity to go out and play and win football matches.
“We seem to be going in the right direction.”
Sunderland chairman Ellis Short turned to Allardyce to succeed Dick Advocaat last month because of the 61-year-old’s record in reversing the fortunes of ailing clubs and stabilising them in the Premier League.
Allardyce hopes he can maintain the signs from his early days at the helm to fulfil that remit, at a club that has been notoriously unstable over the last five years.
“I’m proud of the fact that wherever I’ve been I’ve always left the club better off when I’ve left than when I took over,” he said.
“You can back that up by looking at the clubs I’ve been at.
“So my ultimate goal would be to, in the end, try to emulate what Peter Reid did here, my old mate. Try to be as good as he was.
“Not straight away, I mean it might take a year or two.
“I think it comes down to how well as a business, which is what it is, you invest in the business.
“We’ve got to invest wisely in the business when we get the opportunity.
“At this moment in time the business is evolving by me trying to make the players perform better than they were before I got here.
“That’s why Ellis employed me, for my experience in the field.
“Hopefully that’ll pay off for us all, and then when we come to finding out at the end of the season if we’re still in the Premier League, and we’ve fought our way out of this problem, then we invest and get better.”