Wednesday 18 September 2019

Allardyce proving his worth in survival mission

Sunderland 2 Stoke City 0

Patrick Van Aanholt celebrates after scoring the first goal for Sunderland
Patrick Van Aanholt celebrates after scoring the first goal for Sunderland
Sunderland manager Sam Allardyce urges on his players at the Stadium of Light

Luke Edwards

His team have taken only the smallest of steps, but having guided them out of the relegation zone with this victory, Sam Allardyce is already aiming to achieve far more than just Premier League survival as Sunderland manager.

The challenge is to make sure they are not battling relegation again next season.

All of the managers who have sat where Allardyce does now have had a positive impact, but it was always short-lived.

Roy Keane, Steve Bruce, Martin O'Neill, Paolo Di Canio, Gus Poyet and Dick Advocaat have all talked about unleashing the potential and transforming the Black Cats into a top-eight side.

Their bold words have carried varying degrees of weight. Some have been more convincing than others, but there is something snug about the way Allardyce fits his new role.

He looks and sounds like a manager who knows he has found the right club at the right time.

"I'm proud that wherever I've been I've always left the club better off when I've left than when I took over," said Allardyce, after his side secured successive Premier League wins for the first time since May and made it three wins from his six games in charge.

Although Sunderland have improved dramatically under Allardyce, they beat Stoke only because the visitors lost their captain, Ryan Shawcross, to a second yellow card two minutes after half-time.

However, Sunderland will not be easily beaten any more and will provide Arsenal will a tough test next time out. That is the Allardyce effect and they secured a precious win when Patrick van Aanholt smashed in a long-range shot. Duncan Watmore added an excellent second when Stoke were chasing the game.

Stoke manager Mark Hughes felt his side had been beaten by the Shawcross red card rather than the quality of the opposition, saying: "A key decision like that affects the game, they have to get it right." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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