Sam Allardyce has warned Sunderland not to do a Tottenham and “lose the plot” as they attempt to strike a major blow in the fight for Barclays Premier League survival against Chelsea.
The 61-year-old Black Cats manager knows their fate remains in their own hands with three games remaining, but may not do so for very long if they allow the pressure of the situation to get to them.
As an example, he pointed to the way Mauricio Pochettino’s Spurs folded mentally against Chelsea on Monday evening to surrender a 2-0 lead and ultimately their remote chance of denying Leicester the title as a 2-2 draw ended their hopes.
Midfielder Mousa Dembele is facing a Football Association charge of violent conduct and both clubs have been accused of failing to control their players after a stormy affair at Stamford Bridge, and Allardyce knows Sunderland cannot afford to allow their discipline slip in similar fashion.
He said: “You saw it in Tottenham, I think, on Monday night when they lost the plot. We can’t afford to do that. We have to stay focused from start to finish.
“Tottenham lost a goal then lost the plot mentally, so then all of a sudden, all the talent they have in that side just went by the way and they ended up not only losing the game, but doing the strangest thing I’ve ever seen a Tottenham side do, and that’s get nine players booked and make some quite ferocious tackles at the same time.
“That shows you. What happened to Tottenham mentally, we cannot afford for that to happen to our team.
“Perhaps it’s because they are, as Mauricio says, such a young team that they in the end, couldn’t quite cope with that pressure and lost the plot.
“That’s the last reaction we want from our team in any of the last three games. We want to be aggressive, yes, we want controlled aggression, passion, desire, commitment, yes. But we don’t want to go over the top and lose control of ourselves.”