Sunderland road to survival will be rocky, warns Sam Allardyce

Sam Allardyce
Sam Allardyce
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Sam Allardyce admits he can’t wave a magic wand to instantly banish Sunderland’s relegation fears.

New boss Allardyce inherits a side facing an uphill battle to beat the drop, with Sunderland taking just three points from their opening eight games and still waiting for their first win, ahead of next weekend’s trip to fellow strugglers West Brom.

Sunderland boast the worst defensive record in the Premier League and only ended a run of three successive league games without finding the net in their 2-2 draw against West Ham prior to the international break.

And Allardyce - who successfully steered Blackburn to survival when faced with a similar situation seven years ago - has warned that Sunderland’s fortunes will not immediately be transformed after his appointment was confirmed last week.

“I don’t want to sound negative but we’ve got to be realistic and accept that it’s unlikely that we’ll turn things around overnight,” he said.

“If you get into double figures in points from your first eight games, your chances of getting relegated are dramatically reduced. Sunderland have got three points.

“The ‘R’ word is already back – relegation-threatened Sunderland. It’s a big burden to play under that pressure in front of your own fans.

“The supporters are anxious, the players are anxious and that is when the costly, unforced errors creep in.

“I won’t know exactly how difficult this job is going to be until in I’m amongst the players.

“From a distance, I feel like I can sort out the defence and I think there’s enough there to score a few goals.”

Allardyce’s appointment on a two-year deal, less than a week after Dick Advocaat resigned as head coach, has largely been welcomed by Sunderland supporters.

The ex-Sunderland defender’s track record in keeping teams in the Premier League, and then stabilising them, holds huge appeal for a club that has endured three near-misses from the drop.

Allardyce admits the warm reception he has received from Sunderland fans has been refreshing too after a section of supporters at former clubs Newcastle and West Ham remained unconvinced.

“When I was at West Ham my wife, Lynne, would constantly read the supporters website to see what new insults were being fired,” he told The Sun on Sunday.

“It upset her but she couldn’t keep away from the screen.

“Now she’s been reading the Sunderland fans’ site and she tells me the reaction has been very positive, which makes me feel very excited to get going.

“Everyone wants to be praised and to feel wanted and I just hope I can give the Sunderland supporters some of the excitement they are looking for.

“It’s nice to be loved. But at West Ham and Newcastle I was faced by passionate fans that made themselves heard if they weren’t happy.”