After going 10 league games without the taste of victory, it would be easy to focus on our own failings ahead of tonight’s clash with Sunderland but make no mistake, Sam Allardyce is extremely jittery too.
Big Sam may well have made a career out of building robust sides who triumph manfully against the odds, but the Black Cats’ recent defeat to West Ham has left Allardyce wondering whether or not they have what it takes to kick on and maintain his impressive record of avoiding the drop between now and May.
Many will readily point towards the smash and grab victory he presided over at Selhurst Park earlier in the season as proof that Sunderland will heap yet more misery onto Alan Pardew’s shoulders later on tonight, but Allardyce himself was feeling far from confident when quizzed by the press over his team’s mental state yesterday afternoon.
Evidently, given the tone of his words attached above, the former Bolton and West Ham man has been alarmed by his players’ approach to certain elements of the relegation scrap, prompting him to look towards tonight’s game against Palace with trepidation rather than a sense of relish.
Usually so bullish in his dealings with the media, the almost doubtful words of Allardyce make for a startling departure from normality for us as distant onlookers, even though it may be something of a trap from the man in question, as he potentially bids to lull us all into a false sense of security over his team’s match readiness.
The “immense pressure” (his words not ours) that Sunderland are under could easily work both ways later on this evening. For the sake of everyone associated with the red and blue corner of South London, we can only hope that Big Sam’s men suffer an almighty attack of stage fright when their big moment comes.
Keep everything crossed for this one.