Sport Soccer

Wednesday 26 July 2017

Sam Allardyce wary of raising expectations among Palace fans

Crystal Palace manager Sam Allardyce is wary of increasing expectations surrounding his team
Crystal Palace manager Sam Allardyce is wary of increasing expectations surrounding his team

Sam Allardyce has warned Crystal Palace's supporters not to expect a push for European football next season despite their promising second half to 2016/17.

Following his recruitment in the January transfer window and the time his squad needed to assimilate their new manager's ideas, Palace improved significantly, defeating Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea in the process of securing survival.

Confident displays from Wilfried Zaha, Andros Townsend and Christian Benteke proved a particular strength that the manager will hope can improve further, but despite the foundations he has given them he is wary of increasing expectations.

Allardyce's obvious influence arrived a year after Palace reached the FA Cup final and significantly invested in their squad, and two after an impressive 10th-placed finish under Alan Pardew.

When they preserved their Premier League status with last Sunday's 4-0 defeat of Hull he also said he does not want to be fighting relegation again in 12 months' time, but he has added: "Can we challenge for Europe?

"No, it's too early for that. I don't want to lose any fans in terms of what their expectations might be, but it's too early to talk about competing for sixth or seventh spot in the Premier League just yet.

"Not being involved with a relegation side would be a very good season for Crystal Palace next year. If we overachieve as Palace did in 2015 or like when I got West Ham to fourth in the December: we then fell away because they just weren't big enough as a squad.

"I got hugely criticised for it and Crystal Palace got up there and then fell away and that continued into the next season.We have to be careful about where we get in the league because if it's not sustainable people won't have that."

Palace on Sunday conclude their season at Manchester United, where an Achilles injury means they are without Townsend and where Yohan Cabaye may yet be absent because of a knock.

They recruited Allardyce five months after he left Sunderland to become the England manager having similarly inspired his former club to avoid relegation, and he said: " I would have hoped (if I had stayed) that Sunderland would not have been threatened with relegation because of how we finished last season.

"But the change in my life after sitting watching the Euros, planning for Sunderland, then all of a sudden I get the England job and 67 days later I haven't got it any more and then all of a sudden again I'm at Crystal Palace, life has turned full circle and I'm happy and content and proud of what we've achieved here."

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