Allardyce sticks to guns over Trap spats
AS he stands up to leave the table, Sam Allardyce addresses the issue of his own popularity.
"I'm a bit marmite-ish," he declared, "You either like me, or you f*****g hate me." He is aware that Giovanni Trapattoni belongs to the latter category.
The Blackburn manager was in jovial mood as he visited Dublin on promotional duty yesterday, buzzing from a success over former club Newcastle on Wednesday night.
Yet, he was in no mood to take a conciliatory approach towards the Irish boss after they clashed last year with respect to comments the Italian made about the well-being of Steven Reid.
Trapattoni's recent assertion that Allardyce brought Keith Andrews back too quickly from a groin injury -- he suffered a setback and required surgery that will rule him out until Christmas -- opened up old wounds.
"We like each other, don't we?" declared the Geordie. "Is he a medical expert? Keith was brought back because when he went through a fitness test and passed it no problem. Keith was asked if he felt 100pc, and he said yes.
"The specialist had given him the all clear...and then the condition flared up again. We didn't want to put him under the knife too soon.
"So, Mr Trapattoni is entitled to his opinion, but his opinion is not right."
The Reid issue is slightly more complex. Trapattoni had appeared to suggest, through his trademark broken English, that the Londoner would struggle to be the same again after repeated knee difficulties.
Allardyce erupted, feeling that the comments were offensive to the player and to the club's medical staff. But he then went and released the player at the end of the season, but says that was due to an inability to reach agreement on a contract rather than a medical decision.
"He was almost writing a player off. And he has no medical expertise to write a player off. Steven Reid couldn't say it because he wants to play for Ireland," said Allardyce, who believes that the 29-year-old, now with West Brom, would like to return, despite his subsequent international retirement.
"He still wants to play for Ireland because he's a passionate, quality guy. He's so dedicated to getting fit enough, to doing whatever he needs to do to play football.
"And Steven Reid is playing for West Brom now, still playing Premier League football. I hope he continues to do that and I hope Mr Trapattoni is big enough to eat his words and include him back in the squad.
"My team finished 10th in the Premier League, my team was winning every week and Steven Reid couldn't break into that team. So, he wasn't, at that particular time, earning a new contract.
"It was nothing to do with injury because he went to West Brom and West Brom got promoted, they gave him a contract and now he's playing in the Premier League. So if you look at the facts, the facts speak for themselves."
Meanwhile, Allardyce backed both Chris Hughton and Joey Barton to emerge from their respective difficulties. He feels that Hughton has proved he is management material, and deserves a longer crack at the Newcastle job, while he is a fan of Barton and hopes that his punch to the chest of Morten Gamst Pedersen on Wednesday was a just a "mad moment".
"Joey is a great footballer, and it's a great shame," he said. "It was a silly thing to do, but he'll serve his punishment and get back to playing the way he has been playing."
Former Ireland striker Frank Stapleton was also on hand to launch www.flytothegame.com, a new interactive website for Irish fans of the Premier League.
Stapleton is on better terms with Trapattoni as part of his scouting network, and confirmed he'll be making his way to West Brom in the next few weeks to have a look at striker Simon Cox, who is eligible to play for Ireland.
"He's a bit like Kevin Phillips," said Stapleton, who acknowledges Ireland need a long-term replacement for Robbie Keane, whom he hopes the Tallaght man will stick it out at White Hart Lane and win his place back in the Tottenham team.