Saturday 24 March 2018

Pellegrini: Allardyce must trust his instincts

City's Alvaro Negredo
City's Alvaro Negredo

Mark Ogden

Manuel Pellegrini has urged Sam Allardyce to "trust" in his ability to revive West Ham United, but insists the pressure his Upton Park rival faces is no different to the demand for success at Manchester City.

Allardyce goes into the League Cup semi-final first leg at the Etihad Stadium tonight with his position at West Ham under increasing scrutiny after the club's 5-0 FA Cup humiliation against Nottingham Forest on Sunday.

Pellegrini, meanwhile, remains on course to deliver four trophies in his first campaign as City manager. The Chilean has been set the target of winning five trophies in five seasons by the City hierarchy and the League Cup offers him his first chance of silverware this season. But Pellegrini says he is under the same expectations and pressure that Allardyce is, despite the gulf between their clubs' Premier League positions.

"This job, as a manager in any part of the world, you are always under pressure," Pellegrini said. "When the results are not the results the club wants, it can be a more nervous time than others.

"But I think (Allardyce) is doing a good job and won't have a problem. You have to have trust in what you do and trust the players you choose to play.

"They had an awful result on Sunday, but I don't think they played with their best XI. They played with young players, but I am absolutely sure that this will be a very different game."


Although Pellegrini's last trophy came 10 years ago, when he guided Villarreal to the Intertoto Cup, he insists there is no desperation on his part to end his wait for a major trophy by winning the League Cup.

"It is not my first thought to win a trophy," Pellegrini said. "It is to play the way I think is the best way to win a trophy. The first trophy we can win is the Capital One Cup, because it's finished before the others. The last one I won was the Intertoto. But for me, what I did at Villarreal and Malaga has more importance than to win a title with a big team.

"Playing the way I like to play, not just to win a trophy, that's very important to me. But we are not thinking about Wembley yet. We are thinking first to win this game. We must win here and then see what we can do away."

Pellegrini will be without Jesus Navas, who is sidelined with a knee injury, for tonight's match, while Sergio Aguero remains on the sidelines, despite returning to training following a calf injury.

Meanwhile, Sam Allardyce has conceded that his future is likely to hinge on results over "the next few weeks or games" but he has welcomed the decision of West Ham United to issue him with a very public vote of confidence.

David Sullivan and David Gold, the club's co-owners, outlined their support in a letter to fans on Monday and, although Allardyce has faith in their intentions, he also knows that the need for wins is now urgent. West Ham have slipped to second from bottom of the Premier League after a sequence of seven points in 13 games but they are also only 180 minutes from Wembley.

Allardyce prioritised this tie and then the Premier League trip to Cardiff City on Saturday with his decision to rest many regulars in the humiliating 5-0 FA Cup defeat at Nottingham Forest. He is expected to make nine changes tonight and remains adamant that his team selection on Sunday was a necessary consequence of the schedule.

Of the suggestion that the 'vote of confidence' could be an ominous sign, Allardyce referred to his surprise sackings at Newcastle and Blackburn. "Is it? I wasn't backed by the last two chairmen and I got sacked for no reason at all," he said. "I was pleased to see the statement. Those communications are critical, particularly in times that aren't so good."

Allardyce stressed that he was not surprised by the stance of Sullivan and Gold but acknowledged that their patience could soon come to an end if results do not improve. "Their track record proves they haven't been too rushed into anything . They've given the managers they've had a good chance and stuck by them."

"But I'm realistic to know I have to get results." Asked if a time may come when the owners made a change, Allardyce said: "That depends on what results I get from now until, well, over the next few weeks or games. In the end, we all know what happens if you don't get results."

Support for Allardyce from West Ham supporters is rather more equivocal -- although he described his detractors as "a minority" -- but there was vocal dressing-room backing on the eve of the City clash. "I don't believe there is another manager out there you would want in charge of this football club at this precise moment in time," Matthew Taylor, the midfielder, said.

Rather than search for a new manager, the strategy of Sullivan and Gold is to support Allardyce in the January transfer window. The manager has not been helped by a lengthy injury list, as well as the suspension of Kevin Nolan, but Mark Noble could make his comeback tonight.

Andy Carroll, who has not played for West Ham since May, is in contention for the fixture against Cardiff on Saturday.

West Ham signed Roger Johnson on loan from Wolverhampton Wanderers this week and are now hoping to add Monaco striker Lacina Traore in the next 48 hours. Johnson is likely to come straight in tonight, with Allardyce evidently as mindful of the physical size and stature of Pellegrini's team as he is of their vast technical skill.

"Roger has height and dominance aerially to compete against one of the biggest sides in the Premier League," Allardyce said. "We have to be resilient and take full advantage of the chances we make. We don't have the same pressures as in the Premier League. Nobody gives us a chance. We are underdogs but we believe we can get to Wembley." (© Daily Telegraph, London)


Irish Independent

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